A Piece of Military History; the Price of Freedom Is Eternal Vigilance Often Extracted in the Lives of Service Personnel

Gympie Times, The Qld., January 8, 2011 | Go to article overview

A Piece of Military History; the Price of Freedom Is Eternal Vigilance Often Extracted in the Lives of Service Personnel


Byline: GREG WILDIE

IMAGINE my surprise when I opened the paper on New Years Day to discover I am a member of a cult. Even for me that was a turn up for the books.

I have been described over the years using many four letter words beginning with the letter aca, but cult has never been one of them. That said, if by my admiration of the F111 I become a member of this particular cult, then it is company I am proud to keep.

Having first spent holidays and then lived part of my life near Amberley Airbase, I have seen multiple aircraft come and go, from the last of the Sabre jets to the F18.

Love it or hate it, there was something about the old pig that you cannot remain neutral to.

It had the lowering impending doom, look of the F4 Phantom yet could assume the rocket like silhouette of the Mirage.

Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, especially when one is talking about military aircraft.

Arthur Gorrie's article captured the feelings of the F111 community, even if some of us were not aware we were part of such but it also highlighted an important aspect of our military history that we civilians tend to forget.

The price of freedom is not only eternal vigilance; it is often extracted in the lives of the servicemen and women who do not share the glory of their frontline brethren.

The terrible price that the original poor storage practices extracted in the lives of the F111 resealers and maintenance crews must never be forgotten. Such misfortune must never again be inflicted on a generation of service personnel.

Sadly, they are not alone. Soldiers exposed to Maralinga atomic tests, rocket testing at Woomera, the poison gas experiments in North Queensland during World War II and, who knows how many other questionable activities which yet remain secret, all suffer the consequences of what we hope was a search for the means to preserve our freedom.

The ills afflicting those who served, irrespective of whether they were suffered accidentally or as a result of reckless disregard, should be treated without question or consideration of cost. Treating the human aftermath is a cost of war that we disregard at our peril, both financially and morally. Were it properly factored into our initial calculations, the urge to make war might be greatly lessened.

Military personnel have always suffered from the after effects of their service.

The current survivors are not somehow less resilient than their forebears. They do however live longer and they live in a world where treating their ills by drinking themselves to death whilst destroying the lives of their family along the way is no longer socially acceptable. …

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