Meet Our Veterans/Local Stories


My Time

Thank you for allowing me to post here. I am the Australian Army Engineer who attends most of the memorial parades organized by the Vietnam Veterans Utah Northern Chapter 1079. As a soldier in the Australian Regular Army, I enlisted as an Apprentice at 15 years and 9 months old. On graduation as a machinist I was posted to the Royal Australian Engineer Corps. Many assignments were placed at the feet of this rookie and I admit I met most of the challenges thrown at me. The Army needed a fresh intake of heavy equipment mechanics to cater for the modernization of the Corps. We were trained as such. The involvement of Indonesia into what was Dutch New Guinea saw our unit posted to the Australian side of the border in Papua New Guinea close to the border in Wewak in 1963. Here we built a major defense road, bridges, two wharfs, extended the old WW2 Boram Airstrip to accommodate C130 Hercules aircraft for our re-supply. The Indonesians were pushing the limits of the border of the newly created federation of Malaysia in Borneo and Australian Infantry and Engineers were sent there. We were training to be the next Squadron to deploy there when the decision was made to send us to South Vietnam instead. The experience we had gained in construction projects in both outback Australia and Papua New Guinea stood us well for the tasks set us in South Vietnam; we deployed in early 1965. “Hurry up and wait” is the cry of all armies and we were no different. The US Army assisted initially with ‘dozers and loaders until out landing ships (LSMs) arrived with most of our heavy equipment. There were two large bases that needed to be built ASAP for the Australian Infantry and support troops on their way. The camaraderie we established with the US corps of Engineers at the quarry and equipment we shared is a memory I will never forget. Our unit sent an air portable ‘dozer to an American unit north of us along with two operators. In return a larger US Army dozer and operator was sent to us. My hitch was almost up after 9 years and I was lucky enough to get home to family and loved ones for Christmas 1966. Many years later I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where I married and settled down into the heavy equipment and mining industries. I found the American civilians as amicable as their troops in SVN were and resettlement was very easy. Except; for missing my old unit reunions and large ANZAC parades through Sydney. So one day as I was reading the Salt Lake Tribune sometime after the tragic 9-11-2001 events there was an article about a Vietnam Veteran’s service at the Capitol Rotunda in SLC. A phone number for a Dennis Howland was included and I called him. The rest, as they say is history. I have many people I number as my friends within the Vietnam Veterans community in Utah and attend the memorial services whenever possible. My extended family and old army unit mates from Australia donated some nine paver bricks to the wonderful Vietnam Memorial Wall in Layton

- Peter Radford

About this Service Member

  • Name: Corporal Peter Radford
  • Branch: Army
  • Years of Service: 9
  • Stationed: Vung Tau
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