Jungle battles ‘like yesterday’ for Albany veteran Geoff Cass

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Vietnam veteran Geoff Cass.
Camera IconVietnam veteran Geoff Cass. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Above the inky blue water of the King George Sound, three red flares shoot across the pre-dawn sky to the sounds of the Last Post.

From a boat on the same water where the Anzac convoys departed for World War I, Vietnam War veteran Geoff Cass watched on in quiet contemplation — remembering his friends.

Mr Cass said the night before Anzac Day was always restless, filled with memories of the three friends he lost in the jungle 52 years ago.

At 20 years old, Mr Cass was conscripted for service in the 9th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment.

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In 1968, after just nine months of training, he was deployed to Nui Dat in South Vietnam for a year-long tour of duty.

Mr Cass, pictured, said he could recall his time in the jungle like it was yesterday.

“I can remember landing my first day in Vietnam, I can remember my last day in Vietnam as well — sailing away in the aircraft carrier,” he said.

“The memories will never go.”

As a competitive young man, Mr Cass said he threw himself into training with little thought about the battles that lay ahead.

“I gave it everything in training ... I came home a Lance-Corporal,” he said.

“I was able to look after about 10 guys out in the scrub and it gave me a sense of responsibility.

“I liked caring and making sure we all got home in one piece.

“We didn’t, but that was the luck of the game unfortunately.”

“We were ambushed by the Viet Cong. It was a big battle and we lost lives.

“We had a lot of people that were wounded and we had to get them out by chopper. There were choppers in the sky all around us.”

He said as a young man his time of service was a window into a new world.

But Mr Cass said his service had left an unshakeable weight on his shoulders, shared by his fellow servicemen and women, many of whom struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We couldn’t just switch off overnight,” he said.

“It is a silent bond. You don’t talk about it but you know what each other has been through — you just sense it.

“We are not heroes. We were just young, 20 and 21-year-old Australians doing our duty, representing our country.

“I was quite proud and am still proud to say I represented Australia in Vietnam.”

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