Sixties pop icon stands with Ipswich Vietnam veterans
AT a time when he was topping the charts and soaring to stardom, everything changed for Normie Rowe when he was called up for National Service in 1967.
He was duly sent to serve in Vietnam with A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
The pop singer and songwriter gathered with fellow veterans to commemorate Vietnam Veterans’ Day on Tuesday 18 August in Ipswich.
Mr Rowe said being called up was a moment that changed his life forever.
“I already became quite depressed about it all. I knew my life up until that moment was over and from then on, whatever I did was going to be punctuated by that, by being called up and literally going into the army and whatever was to come then,” he said.
“While I was in the Army I decided there was no point in me learning all this stuff if I don’t put it into action.
“I didn’t step forward and say I want to go to Vietnam, but I chose to go to units that were going overseas.”
He spoke of the stigma that most Vietnam veterans faced on their return home and how difficult life had become.
His father gave him the advice to forget he had ever gone, words that never served Mr Rowe well.
Mr Rowe’s focus on this year’s Vietnam Veterans Day was on mateship and support.
“I’ve got mates I don’t even know. We’ve got this thing that’s a really powerful bond and we have in common,” he said.
“I call that the lateral bond, in other words everybody in my age group if you like.
“I would like to see it become a vertical connection too, so the Australians who come back from overseas having served current deployments and perhaps deployments in the future, understand that they are also our mates and that we’re there for them.”
Mr Rowe said he wanted to ensure that the support systems that have now been developed since his time in the Army will continue to support future generations.
Originally known as Long Tan Day, Vietnam Veterans’ Day on 18 August is a day to commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australians during the Vietnam War.
The Battle of Long Tan is often regarded as one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers during the conflict.