Mates and Comrades

We’re the parents who watched with pride, the day that you marched out
But the ideals for which you stood, were soon replaced by doubt
As we were slow to realise, the tragedy that lay in store
For decades we have raised our kids, for someone else’s war

To me you were a brother and you seemed ten feet tall
Now you’re just a legacy, a photo on my wall
From now until eternity, those happy days are gone
Though memories may never die, time still marches on

I’m the girlfriend who farewelled you, in the early hours of morn
And I stood there at the station, feeling so forlorn
But as the train moved forward, I hope that I can say
When we had that last embrace, God looked the other way

I’m the instructor who tried to teach you, all you needed to survive
Those basic but vital skills, to keep yourself alive
All those hours on the parade ground, have still got me beat
How you managed to drill and march, when you were born with two left feet

I knew that when I met you, we’d be mates for life
We’d laugh and drink together, and bail each other out of strife
Sitting in a dugout, sharing  hopes and dreams
Little did we realise, life’s seldom as it seem

We’re the crew aboard the medivac, Albatross nine one
Dodging deadly ground fire as we made our desperate run
Smoke thrown in the contact, would be our only guide
But deep down in our hearts we knew, time was not on our side

I’m the nurse who held your feeble hand, when we knew all hope was lost
Your final act of courage, came at too great a cost
You had so much ahead of you, but sometimes life’s not fair
Grief and a sense of loss, is the cross that I now bear

I’m the flag that draped your casket, when they said that final prayer
As the Last Post’s sad refrain, cut through the solemn air
Yet despite this honour, I felt that I’d been cursed
When they placed me in the loving hands, of those who held you first

We are those who served beside you, mates and comrades too
For only we have witnessed, the agony we all went through
We recall your name at dawn’s first light, and in sunset’s final glow
But when it comes to share our pain, few will want to know

By Tomas ‘Paddy’ Hamilton
23 August 2017

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FILE PHOTO: Australian Defence Force personnel from Australia’s Federation Guard carry the coffins of the 33 Australian service personnel and dependants repatriated from SE Asia from a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster at RAAF Base Richmond on 2 June 2016. Original photo by Corporal David Gibbs, digitally stylised by CONTACT.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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