"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Story, by Australian Veteran, Stan Middleton

Stan Middleton
I am an Australian Vietnam Veteran who was stationed in Vung Tau in Vietnam in 1967-68.

I read the story of Jesse Gump's return to Vietnam. I was so very happy he had success in locating the two ladies from his camp and I decided to share my own story.

I also started a search for one of our Vietnamese Employees in 1999. It took me three years before I had any luck, but I was finally successful. I have now found many others that were employed at the Australian Base in Vung Tau.

My background:  I was drafted into the Australian Army for two years in July 1966. I served in Vung Tau in Vietnam from August 1967 until May 1968. I was attached to the Australian Ordnance Depot at the Australian Base (1st Australian Logistical Support Group). My rank was a Private.

Most of my time was spent in the base; however, I did some shot gun escorts up the river to Saigon and also to Nui Dat by road where our field units were based.

We also manned the main Defence Post at the Australian Base in Vung Tau. I was fortunate that I got the chance to work with many of our local employees which of course many of our Infantry & others at our Nui Dat Base did not.

I worked for 30 years with the ANZ Bank. I struggled with my health and retired in 2000. My first wife passed away from cancer in 1991. I have, in fact since, married a Vietnamese girl who I did not know back then, who also worked at our base.
Sinh Middleton

Sinh & I met in 2002 in Vung Tau and married in 2005 in Melbourne. The lady I first tracked down has since married a Veteran friend from Perth. They had a romance during 1968 during the war.

I have 3 daughters and my wife Sinh has 6 children of which 2 are in Australia. We have 11 grandchildren between us. Our families have never had any problems between each other. My daughters love Sinh very much. 

I initiated reunions for our unit in Vietnam in 1998 and we have had one every two years since. I am very involved in the organising of each reunion. Myself & another veteran set up a data base for all who served in our unit from start to finish (1966 until 1972). 

We are continually updating details and tracing Veterans that have dropped out of site! Sadly we are finding many of units veterans have passed away from various causes. I also keep a close watch on Veterans from my unit who are struggling or need assistance through our Department of Veterans Affairs.

My passion is getting slides from Australian Veterans from my & other units, scanning them, improving them and putting them up on my Vietnam Site with Flickr. At present I am way behind as there are not enough hours in each day for me!

A group of us in Melbourne have set up a program named Water Safety Vietnam. Only a couple of us are Vietnam Veterans. Most involved have background in swimming, life saving etc. I have no swimming background but with my wife Sinh we provide a lot of knowledge from a Vietnamese perspective. We are not political! 

The number of children who drown in Vietnam each year is in the thousands. We send voluntary trainers over several times a year to train both trainers and children to swim & in basic water safety. Raising money for our project is our hardest task so if any of your readers of your blog wish to donate I would be only too happy to supply details of Water Safety Vietnam's Bank Account in Australia.

As my wife speaks very good English we are regularly asked to organise return trips to Vietnam for Vietnam Veterans & their partners. We have done trips in 2011 & this year with approximately 33 each time for a month. We have toured one end of Vietnam to the other and had wonderful times.

This time we spent 4 days in Cambodia as well. Each time we have put on a dinner for our former Vietnamese Employees at our expense at Vung Tau. Very enjoyable and emotional nights as many on our tours caught up with their former Vietnamese workmates. A lot of our former employees can still speak English and if they can't Sinh & others do the translating!

I know with the number of former Vietnamese we have located we have helped the renewal of many friendships between our Veterans and ones they formerly worked with at the Australian Base.

About once a year I send out emails to many of our Veterans for donations to our former employees and always get a great response. All the funds go direct to individuals to spend as they wish. no admin costs or money to the Vietnamese Government. Most use the funds for medical purposes. We have helped pay for two funerals and the headstones on graves as well.

Our Veterans have raised about US $60,000 to help our former employees who did not escape Vietnam. I have also located many that did escape Vietnam to Australia or the US.

My experience may not be able to help, but it shows that nothing is impossible! Send me an email with info on where you were stationed, etc., and your full contact details. My email is: stanmid@bigpond.net.au

I live in Melbourne Australia. Click on the below link and you will find in the first set photos from a dinner for our former Vietnamese Employees in April of this year. We gave out $6,000 that night.

On the site you will find many photos from Australia's involvement in Vietnam. If you return to Vietnam you will not regret it. It is a wonderful place to visit now.

Regards, Stan Middleton


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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