A sol­dier, his ri­fle, his re­cov­ery and his story

Central Leader - - WHAT’S ON - RUWADE BRYANT

Worn, weary and rough - all words that can be used to de­scribe the hands of a Vietnam War veteran.

Pukekohe’s Doug McNally is a sol­dier, and he sur­vived the Vietnam War.

He grew up in Te Awa­mutu and joined the army in 1964 as he was fed up do­ing ‘or­di­nary’ work.

‘‘As a young fella, I had a sense of ad­ven­ture and wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent be­cause I was just work­ing on farms un­til I joined the army.’’

He was first posted to an air sup­ply unit in Devon­port, Auck­land, where he spent most of his time drop­ping sup­plies to troops on Great Bar­rier Is­land.

Two years later, in 1966, he moved to a trans­port unit in Papakura where he was re­spon­si­ble for troop car­ry­ing.

A few years later, he and some friends de­cided to join the Bat­tal­ion In­fantry in Christchurch, where they com­menced com­bat train­ing be­fore be­ing shipped off to Malaya to pre­pare for muggy weather in Vietnam.

It was 1969, 14 years into the Vietnam War, and McNally was on route to his 12-month tour of duty.

Ex­plo­sions, fly­ing bul­lets, scream­ing, and then si­lence - no mat­ter what time of the day, adren­a­line was al­ways flow­ing, said McNally.

Dur­ing one gun fight, McNally thought his life was over. They were am­bushed by the en­emy at night and he made a ‘‘hasty’’ crawl to get be­hind his web­bing and equip­ment where he then opened fire with his self-load­ing ri­fle.

‘‘They say that when you are able to see the flashes com­ing from an en­emy weapon, it’s ‘good night Irene’. Well I saw those flashes, so I proved that say­ing wrong.’’

What he saw af­ter the ‘con­tact’ how­ever, shook him - his web­bing and ammo had been shot to pieces.

‘‘There was a hole where a bul­let had gone through it. To think that dur­ing the con­tact I was di­rectly be­hind the web­bing ... not a nice feel­ing.’’

McNally, has been a mem­ber of RSA Franklin for 12 years, he joined the club to help him find peace and ca­ma­raderie once again.

He had suf­fered post trau­matic stress dis­or­der and night­mares, and he used to strug­gle talk­ing to peo­ple about his ex­pe­ri­ences in Vietnam.

But he said the RSA and Anzac Day had help him find him­self again.

RUWADE BRYANT/FAIRFAX NZ

Doug McNally stands proudly in front of the eter­nal flame at the Franklin RSA.

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