A Chapter in the life of Pte V.J. Isaacs 5/410017
C Company 3 rd Bttln RASR  K Force, Korea.
ANZAC Day 25th April 1998

“Darlot / Wardandie Man.”
 A Descendant of our stoneage people
“I am  Aborigine”

                              "Duty First"
   ( Print by Brian Wood (4RAR 70/71) for the Military Workshop).
               (Australian & NZ Defender Magazine No. 25.)

These maps show four stages of the Korean War.The first map shows the farthest extent of the North Korean invasion- - to the Pusan Perimeter in September 1950. The second map shows the site of the Inchon landing by the United Nations (UN) forces. Following this surprise move, the UN troops advanced as far north as the Yalu River by October 1950.

The third map shows the extent of the retreat by the UN forces after China entered the war in October 1950. The fourth map shows the territory held by the two sides when they signed an armistice agreement on July 27th 1953.

(1) An Australian machine gun pit on Hill 355 with an M1919A4 .30 cal HMG and a.303 Bren gun. ( Photogragh by 3RAR Veteran Colin H Brown).( Australian & NZ Defender Magazine No.25)

Mingli Wunjurri Nungala, waiting at the Leonora Post Office Anzac Day 25th April 98.

(1)                          Vic Isaacs & Diontae

On the 25th April 1998 Mingli, Diontae and I went to Leonora, where we met other members of my family, I then assembled with other War Veterans in front of the Leonora Post Office at about 11 am to remember the fights we had on foreign soils.
If you haven’t been to fight for freedom and justice for this land like the men who marched today you can never now what we went through.

 (2)                Patrol heading out into No-mans land.
( Photograph by 3RAR veteran Colin H Brown ).

I was a young man of 17 and a half years coming from the remote desert area of WA, when I heard the call for duty in the Korean conflict, so I joined the Royal Australian Special Reserve Forces (K Force) for a 3 year term in Korea, my Army career began at Karrakatta Army Camp WA, then Northam Camp WA for basic training, then Ingulburn Army Camp NSW for more training, then on a plane to Kure in Japan where we stayed for a while, then we went for more training at a battle school near (Harramurra). We were then loaded on a ship and taken across the sea to ( Pusan ) South Korea where I was transferred to Charlie Company 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment for my tour of duty as a Bren Gun Operator in the snow covered mountains of Korea.

(2)           Waiting for march to start in Leonora.

On my return from Korea in 1954 after spending 11 months on active service I was disenchanted with the lifestyle in the city - Perth. The violence, alcohol, drug abuse and legalized genocide towards Aboriginal people was not what I wanted for my family, so we returned to the home of my birthplace and settled on a rocky remote area 70 kms from Leonora.

My attachment to this land is very strong, and I fiercely oppose any intruders.

(3)           Marching in Leonora.

Today 25th April 1998 was a very special day for Mingli and my family.
Here was Pte VJ Isaacs 5/410017 a former bren gun operator taking part in my first ANZAC day march since returning to Australian shores back in 1954.

(3)  A  RAR digger on duty at an observation post on Hill 355. While an excellent position stragegically, Hill 355 was bitterly cold in the winter snows.( Photogragh by 3RAR veteran Colin H Brown).

There were only about a dozen marchers, but none more proud than myself as we marched to the Memorial Park where I stood proud as the Last Post was played and memories going back 45 years came flooding back through my mind.

(4) Bandana and early body armour,  RAR diggers share a few jokes before a patrol.(Photograph by 3RAR Veteran Colin H Brown).

Home by Christmas with the Australian Army in Korea 1950-56 (by Lt Col Neil C Smith) is a military history reference book which helps fill the documented void of Australian
Military involvement in a prolonged and savage conflict wedged between the massive social trauma of World War 11 and the emotion and sensitivity of the Vietnam War.
The void in the Korean War, a war which consumed a significant slice of Australian Military effort, and not a small human sacrifice between 1950 and 1956.( Forward of Lt Col Neil C Smiths Account).

(4)           Marching into park.

(8) Shades of World War 1. A digger does his turn manning the trenches during the bitter Korean winter. While a big improvement on what was available in the first winter of the war, even the best 1950s winter gear was totally inadequate in the face of the cruel cold of the highlands.(Photograph by 3RAR veteran Colin H Brown).

The Korean War is noted as the neglected war because of lack of acknowledgment.
Smith puts the figure at nearly 11,000 soldiers but Reg Bandy who served in Korea as a Sgt Major says the number was more like 14,087.


(5)           On Parade

There was no homecoming and no celebration. According to Bandy there were 339 killed, 1216 wounded and 29 taken prisoner.

(5) An Aussie digger mans a .30 cal M1919 HMG on Hill 355 in 1952. (Photograph by 3RAR Veteran Colin H Brown ).

I was part of this effort today, 25th April 1998 I paid homage to mates who fought beside me and those who did not return home.
I felt very proud to be part of this service and being able to participate in such an event.
Too many times Aboriginal people are not able or do not feel that they can join in with other Australians in celebrating and remembering historical events.

(6)           Standing at attention.

This is one event I am proud to be able to participate in as Aboriginal soldiers never shirked their duties and fought side by side with others to bring peace across the world.

(6) Hill 355 was so steep that vehicles could only get about halfway up the rear slope. Casualties were lowered down on a flying fox to save time and lives. ( Photograph by 3RAR veteran Colin H brown ).

There have been recent reports of conditions the soldiers endured whilst fighting in Korea and other places and their treatment on return to Australia.
We were neglected men who laid our lives on the line to fight for  peace and justice on foreign  soil, I done this for my country the land that I love, we wanted to be loved and respected when we returned home but for some men it was not to be.
All I can say is " I had a job to do so I done just that ".

(7) Blizzards sweeping down from Siberia would routinely cover the defences with up to more than half a metre of snow and ice.( Photograph by 3RAR Veteran Colin H Brown ).

No medals were issued to me until 1997 when I had to make enquires about my medals, I was entitled to the United Nations Service Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 with clasps Korea which is awarded to members of the Australian Defense Force for 30 days service in Korea, Japan or Okinawa between 28th July 1953 and 26th August 1957.

These are my Medals: United Nations Service Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 with clasps Korea.
After the service Mingli and I went to the Council Chambers for drinks and something to eat, my daughter Vanessa and Billy Dean and the children came and joined us. The kids came and went.

(7)           At Ease

There was a Vietnam veteran there and he was rather quiet to. The atmosphere was a bit stifled but we dealt with it.

                      Standing easy.

Anyway we did it, and 1999 we’ll do the same where ever I may be.

Hope you have enjoyed  the pictures,and the story I have written that explains the life of an Aboriginal soldier.

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                © Copyright CORRINGIE SETTLEMENT, 1999

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