Don’t rank all sol­diers the same

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today -

In the past week our de­fence com­mu­nity has hit the head­lines due to sep­a­rate racial slurs and drug scan­dals.

These are both in­cred­i­bly se­ri­ous is­sues and have be­come na­tional news.

The com­mu­nity has rightly ex­pressed out­rage and the Aus­tralian De­fence Force has or­dered in­ves­ti­ga­tions on both in­ci­dents.

Sol­diers I’ve spo­ken to about the is­sues are em­bar­rassed and hope the ac­tions of a small group don’t cause them all to be tarred with the same brush.

When de­fence per­son­nel come to Townsville, many re­mark how pleas­antly sur­prised they are by the warm re­cep­tion they re­ceive.

They feel com­fort­able duck­ing down the shops in their cams and no longer feel the need to change into civvies be­fore they pick their kids up from school.

The ADF un­doubt­edly needs to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions, but as a com­mu­nity we don’t need to take mat­ters into our own hands and shun any­one wear­ing cam­ou­flage.

Last week, the Bully of­fi­cially launched the new lift-out we have been run­ning for sev­eral weeks now. It is called Our De­fend­ers.

While as a news­pa­per, we will con­tinue to put the spot­light on neg­a­tive de­fence force is­sues in or­der to de­mand they be ad­dressed, Our De­fend­ers is about cel­e­brat­ing the achieve­ments of our gar­ri­son city.

Last Fri­day, Our De­fend­ers ran a touch­ing tribute to World War II, Malaya Emer­gency and Korean War vet­eran Vic Sven­son, who ded­i­cated more than 30 years of his life to our coun­try.

It was the story of a hero who was al­ready help­ing de­fend Aus­tralia at the ten­der age of 16.

He was a teenager who en­listed in World War II just as soon as he came of age, know­ing he may never re­turn.

He was a sol­dier who never stopped fight­ing, even af­ter throw­ing his 52nd grenade with his mates ly­ing dead all around him, ce­ment­ing his sta­tus as one of the true war­riors in the Battle of Kapy­ong.

While Vic won’t be with us this An­zac Day, there is a new gen­er­a­tion of young heroes ready to take his place.

The same is­sue of Our De­fend­ers also told the story of 1RAR’s Pri­vate Mar­ley Bird who re­ceived a Com­men­da­tion for Gal­lantry af­ter risk­ing his life to run out into the open un­der heavy fire in Afghanistan and shoot his grenade launcher so his pla­toon could es­cape from a flanked em­bank­ment.

Townsville res­i­dents refuse to tol­er­ate bad be­hav­iour from sol­diers, and right­fully so.

But be­fore you make any judg­ments, give Our De­fend­ers a read and you might be pleas­antly sur­prised.

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