Menu Close

My time with Aussies

Operation Kangaroo-1, June 1974. Our Company Fox 2/7 First Marine Brigade, Kaneohe Bay Oahu, Hawaii. I flew to Australia aboard two AC-130 Marine Transport Aircraft, stopping over on Kwajalein Island for lunch. (The runway was too short and only 16 feet above Sea Level, stopping 10 feet from the beach, just before the surf). We knew what the Bomber Pilots felt like taking off from the aircraft carriers attacking Japan. We landed for the night on Guam and enjoyed the hospitality of the United States Navy. Every level of their barracks had soda machines that were loaded with all of our favorite beer flavors, at only a quarter each. (If you wanted a soda, you had to make it to the ‘Package Store’ before closing).

The next day, boarding our AC-130, everybody’s seabag was twice as heavy. We really hated leaving those Swabbies behind. It gave us a new appreciation of our “Brothers” in the Navy. What a great bunch of guys. We left a bunch of empty soda machines behind.

Our next port was Rockhampton, Australia, where we met the ‘Diggers’ of the First Royal Australian Regiment. We were attached for Combat Operations against the Marines en route from Okinawa. The next morning, our AC-130s were rolled out with ten-foot Flame Orange ‘Skippy’s (KANGAROO’S) painted on both sides of the Vertical Tails of our Aircraft. The ROAR of cheers from both Marines and Aussies together sealed our brotherhood forever!!! Our pilots threatened to SHOOT anybody attempting to remove them. The Marine pilots were very proud of their acceptance by the Australian Army Air Corps. Once in the bush, my squad and I snapped to attention and saluted an Officer with red Captains’ bars.

A group of Aussies was laughing their asses off as they walked over to us, explaining, “You don’t have to salute him, mates; he’s in the Red Cross.” I’m not too fond of the American Red Cross, which refused to help my wife and kids because I was only a Corporal. My wife got help from the US Navy Wives Relief Fund until my payroll was straightened out. I found nothing but respect for the Australian Red Cross, which follows their troops everywhere in the bush—providing them with writing materials, stamps, envelopes, fresh water, hot tea, cold tea, coffee, cookies, chewing gum, all free.

I saluted him every time I saw him, and he returned it out of respect. He was awesome!!! The next morning, we fell out for PT in formation. When the Battalion Commander said “Go,” the Aussies took off like a herd of Buffaloes. The U.S. Marines all stayed in step, calling cadence. The 1,000 Aussies fell in behind us in step and joined in the cadence. When we got back to camp, I heard their Bn. Commander asked our Company Commander (Captain Gary W. Barnes), “What did you do to my men?” He thanked Captain Barnes for giving his troopers so much pride. I stayed in touch with a machine gun section for years. They informed me they still run PT in formation with cadence.

Later I worked seven days of Shore Patrol Duty with a Royal Australian Military Policeman in Queensland named Cpl. Ian “Spud” Murphy. He allowed me to live with his beautiful family while in port.

No name given

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.