Emotions run high

TODAY, John Smee remembers.

He will remember family members who fought in Gallipoli, along the Western Front, through the Middle East and New Guinea and Korea.

He will remember serving in Vietnam.

"I think about the fellas who we lost," the Newstead man said yesterday.

"I particularly miss my dad today. He passed away a few years ago.

"I never called him dad - he was mate, or cobber, or digger."

Mr Smee enlisted in the army in 1963, aged 17.

It wasn't the strong family grounding that saw him join - he said that despite his father and grandfather having both served in the Defence Force, he joined because he thought it was the "right thing to do".

He fought in Vietnam with the 5th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in 1966 and came home in 1967, then re-engaged in 1969 for another 12 months.

He said he preferred not to reflect upon his time in Vietnam but remembered his following years in the Defence Force with affection.

"That time is now history," he said.

"I joined a peacetime army, and it was an active life."

Mr Smee has witnessed changes in the way veterans are treated upon their return to Australia.

He will march today in Launceston with fellow veterans of the 5th Battalion.

"People's thoughts have changed," he said.

"It's very emotional to come down Charles Street and have everyone clapping."


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