Possums & Bird Dogs: Australian Army Aviation's 161 Reconnaissance Flight in South Vietnam

By Peter Nolan | Go to book overview

13
The end phase:
August 1971–March 1972

Major Neil Harden’s diary notes for August 1971 relate that ‘the unit has been warned for a move to Vung Tau in late September and is required to be operational by 6 October. Preparation is well under way, together with preparation for the move back to Australia sometime in December.’1 The moves and accounting compliance requirements called for drastic measures. The OC thoughtfully appointed Captain Tub Matheson as stocktake officer. Tub was not a stocktake enthusiast but complied with his instructions at least some of the time:

When the word came that we were pulling out we went from wartime to
peacetime accounting, which pissed me right off because I was stocktake
officer and couldn’t go flying much. Every time I did the boss would come
up on channel, ‘Possum Four, this is Niner! Get back on the ground,
Matheson. Have you finished the stocktake?’2

Radio Sergeant Brian Reardon remembered the stocktake well because he had a large surplus of radios provided by the ever-generous US maintenance system:

The OC came in this day doing his checks and he got around to ARC-51
BX UHF radios. He said to me, ‘How many 51 BXs have you got?’ I said,
‘Well, how many do you want?’ I threw off this cover and there were heaps,

-193-

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