A Sweet Use of Adversity – National Servicemen in Vietnam

Whittaker, Bob (2023) A Sweet Use of Adversity – National Servicemen in Vietnam. [USQ Project]

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The motives and attitudes of volunteers and conscripts during the Australian military commitment to South Vietnam were examined using oral histories recorded in interviews with ex-national servicemen. Two groups of veterans were interviewed, the first comprising men who volunteered for national service using the early registration option, and the second were conscripts who had their birthdates drawn in one of the sixteen ballots conducted between 1965 and 1972. News media influence on their attitudes and decisions was also examined. Changes in the tone and content of newspaper reportage of ANZAC Day between 1962 and 2018 were identified using a succession of news archives.

The study found that there were consistent differences in options given to the conscripts depending on their corps allocations, and that a proportion of the volunteers did not understand the implications of early registration at the time. The myth of the volunteer as highlighted by Dapin and Morris, amongst others, is revisited and clarified.

Participants reported that the media treatment of the conflict did not influence attitudes and decisions prior to and during service, but it contributed to anger and bitterness post service. Reporting of the war became less supportive and more critical after 1965. Decisions made by those interviewed were essentially pragmatic and owed little to what is understood as the ANZAC tradition.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Supervisors: Caryn Coatney
Qualification: Master of Arts
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2023 23:23
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2023 23:23
URI: https://sear.unisq.edu.au/id/eprint/52069

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