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I WAS ONLY 19 (A Walk In the Light Green) (John Schumann) Redgum Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing-out parade at Puckapunyal It was a long march from cadets. The sixth battalion was the next to tour, and it was me who drew the card. We did Canungra, Shoalwater before we left. And Townsville lined the footpaths as we marched down to the quay This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean. And there's me in my slouch hat with my SLR and greens. God help me, I was only nineteen. From Vung Tau, riding Chinooks, to the dust at Nui Dat I'd been in and out of choppers now for months. But we made our tents a home, VB and pinups on the lockers And an Asian orange sunset through the scrub. And can you tell me, doctor, why I stil can't get to sleep? And night-time's just a jungle dark and a barking M16? And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means? God help me, I was only ninteen. A four week operation when each step could mean your last one on two legs It was a war within yourself. But you wouldn't let your mates down til they had you dusted off So you closed your eyes and thought about something else. Then someone yelled "Contact!" and the bloke behind me swore We hooked in there for hours, then a Godalmighty roar Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon, God help me, he was going home in June. I can still see Frankie, drinking tinnies in the Grand Hotel On a thirty-six hour rec leave in Vung Tau And I can still hear Frankie, lying screaming in the jungle Til the morphine came and killed the bloody row. And the Anzac legends didn't mention mud and blood and tears And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real. I caught some pieces in my back that I didn't even feel God help me, I was only nineteen. And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep? And why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet? And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means? God help me, I was only nineteen.

    


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