Anzac Day: Fremantle RSL members and Vietnam vets have unbreakable bond


Vietnam War veterans Les Butt and Brian Firns, from Fremantle RSL sub-branch.
Picture: Martin Kennealey    d481701
Vietnam War veterans Les Butt and Brian Firns, from Fremantle RSL sub-branch. Picture: Martin Kennealey d481701

FOR Fremantle RSL members and Vietnam War veterans Les Butt and Brian Firns, Anzac Day is an opportunity to spend time with their fellow veterans and remember those who have died.

Mr Butt, who joined the New Zealand Army in 1960, said the way Vietnam War veterans were treated had changed over time.

“When we first got back, the reception we got was lousy; we were called murderers and treated like rubbish,” he said.

“They did not understand it and if you tried to talk to them about it, they shouted you down.

“That hurt possibly far more then the actual war itself, and the war itself was bad enough.

“I don’t say too much about what happened in the war, I’ve seen enough and it’s something you have to live with for the rest of your life.

“Even the RSL didn’t provide that much support as it was run by World War II vets and they didn’t think Vietnam was a ‘real war’.”

Mr Butt said he left the Army in 1974 but joined the reserves straight after.

“When I left the army, I struggled with the transition,” he said. “Going into the reserves helped me but I’ve seen blokes come straight off the plane and then back into ‘normal’ life and lose the plot.

“I joined the Cockburn Coolbellup RSL in 1987 and the sub-branch were a big support.

“I’ve been with Fremantle RSL for 10 years.”

Mr Firns, who was part of the survey call team that updated maps, said he joined the RSL after Mr Butt convinced him while they were at the pub.

“I have enjoyed the sense of camaraderie at the club,” he said.

“This Anzac Day, I will be marching with some of my fellow soldiers from the survey call in Perth.

“Afterwards I’ll join Les at the pub and watch the two-up game.”

Fremantle RSL will hold an Anzac Day Dawn Service in Fremantle and North Fremantle as well as an Anzac Parade through the City.

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