‘No one wins in war’: Oakford veteran reflects on three generations of military involvement


Barry O’Neil’s family has a rich history with the army, stemming back to 1914.
Barry O’Neil’s family has a rich history with the army, stemming back to 1914.

“NO one wins in war.”

Vietnam veteran Barry O’Neil may have a rich family military history spanning three generations, but those words he is sure of.

It began in 1914 with the 10th Light Horse Brigade, and encompassed Galipoli, Middle Eastern campaigns, World War II and the conflicts in Korea, Malaya and Vietnam.

The Oakford resident, who has carried on his family’s tradition and is member of the Light Horse Brigade to this day, admitted he gets annoyed when people accuse RSLs of glorifying war.

“None of us that have served would ever try and glorify war, no proper veteran would glorify war,” he said.

“We’ve all lost somebody, we’ve been injured ourselves, we’ve lost family members or people in your group, perhaps people who you were in charge of and you had to write all the paperwork and write home to their families.

“A lot of people don’t understand, I lost a lot of good mates when I went through Vietnam. Some didn’t come home.”

Mr O’Neil, who spent a year in Vietnam after arriving in 1966, said it was vital to keep the Anzac spirit alive to honour those who did not return home.

“The spirit of the Anzacs is still ready to us today as we value freedom, tolerance and a fair go for all,” he said.

“The Anzacs are a part of us and we are a part of them, even 100 years on.

“I remember and honour the people who paid the supreme sacrifice for freedom and peace.”

Mr O’Neil, who often visits schools to talk about the importance of the Anzacs, said he wanted to help bridge the gap between Vietnam veterans and the younger generations who had served in the army.

“I think the Vietnam veterans, we’ve got to try and get the current veterans of the Iraq and Middle East conflicts involved in the RSLs,” he said.

“When we all go, I don’t think we’re going to have all those people there, but it’s something we’ve got to keep alive.”

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