A forgotten war remembered
Many Vietnam War stories are untold, writes
IT took four decades after World War II for the tale of unlikely hero Oskar Schindler to surface. And it’s been several decades since Australia withdrew from the Vietnam War and similar emotionally-charged stories, which may not be of the same magnitude as Schindler’s, are still arising out of the long ago, but not forgotten, conflict.
All The Way, a documentary based on a book Vietnam: The Australian War by Paul Ham, portrays another side of the Aussies who were conscripted to fight in what was to be the unwinnable war.
Director Anne Delaney was compelled to make the documentary after reading Ham’s wellresearched story about Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. Her best recollections are from blackand-white TV news stories.
‘‘As soon as I picked up the book I wanted to be on that project,’’ Delaney says.
‘‘What I loved about it, is he (Ham) has woven the politics with the military history, and has grounded it around the emotional stories of the soldiers.’’
One of the soldiers who captured Delaney’s attention is Barry Petersen, a character reminiscent of Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz. Petersen was stationed in the Central Highlands to train a private army of Montagnard warriors who were neither loyal to the north nor the south.
His army of indigenous tribesmen grew to more than 1000 and successfully ambushed the Ho Chi Minh trail, the North Vietnamese supply line.
Thursday, 9.30pm, ABC1.