56 x 76cm

Andrea Malone

Thommo was conscripted for Vietnam. As a proud young Australian he saw himself upholding the long tradition of war service. Fifty years on he is part of a PTSD veteran’s self-support group. Their bravery in acknowledging their condition when many remain disparaging is exemplary; three of them were in the Battle of Coral and Balmoral. They talk about their humorous stories from war and it is the group’s courage, comradeship and loyalty which sustain them now, even as it did in Vietnam. When they are together they relax in trust. Support is there when needed but often laughter and taking the Mickey helps and reveals their mutual empathy. On parting their very strong veteran’s handshake conveys unspoken emotion. They did not meet for three months some years ago and noted they went downhill…fast.

Thommo was a machine gunner whose personal view of love and courage is never to burden his caring family with any of his war experiences. In repose his eyes display the thousand yard stare and sadness, yet his strength, courage and determination are also palpable. He is the one who cracks the most jokes, keeping the group spirit high. The ANZACS would relate to Thommo.