Tribute To Veterans



Has anybody seen my youth?

I know I had it back in '67

Nineteen-year-old virgin soldier, all innocent fun

and clumsy efforts to lose innocence.


I think it was still with me in early '68,

Shakedown ops and TAOR patrols were still a game;

So I guess I must have lost it during Tet,

Perhaps it slipped away quietly, first time I lost a mate.


I know I didn't have it in the Long Hais,

That was no place for innocence, no place for youth;

It couldn't have survived at Coral, and since Balmoral

Memory gets hazy, so I can't be sure.


I started missing it when I came home,

Still only twenty, while many of my old friends

Were celebrating their coming of age;

But something was wrong - they were only kids,

So they still had theirs - I must have lost mine;

Somehow I knew it was time to move on.


Now, many years have passed, a lot of miles

Travelled on this old grunt's tired feet,

I know there's no point looking, it's gone for good;

But something strange has happened along the way;

While searching for lost youth, I found my manhood;


None of my generation who stayed at home

Will ever find theirs as surely as I found mine.


Author: Lachlan Irvine

(Notes:  "Shakedown operations and TAOR patrols" were tasks given to infantry units early in their tour of duty, to help them get acclimatised; "Tet" refers to the Tet Offensive of February 1968; "the Long Hais",  "Coral" and "Balmoral" were the scenes of major battles in 1968; "grunt" is a slang term for an infantry soldier.)