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

By Peter Nolan | Go to book overview

Epilogue

The spirit and tradition of 161 Recce Flight lives on in another incarnation: that of 161 Reconnaissance Squadron based in Darwin. This unit has experienced active service in support of UN forces in East Timor and has served in other regional areas. Looking to the future, new aircraft like the Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter will ensure that Australia’s forces can continue to perform with distinction on their own or in operations with its allies. Yet perhaps there is still a role for slow and trusty steeds like those of the Vietnam era. Not every task needs a super machine with terrifying firepower. Sometimes an illegal rocket pod, a homemade grenade launcher or a detergent bomb is just the ticket.

Today, there is little sign of 161’s long presence at Nui Dat. A few houses are scattered along the site of Luscombe field, with a small school across the way built with the assistance of Australian veterans. Rubber is processed where once stood the control tower. Not much is left of the runway, just patches of cracked asphalt with weeds poking through. We might never have been there. But I like to think that, on a quiet night, a keen listener might hear some ghostly echoes of the past; muffled laughter and a song, perhaps, and the clang of a dropped spanner or the cough of a cold engine starting up for a night recce. And in the treetops, against the backdrop of the stars, it might just be possible to make out the silhouette of a possum, patiently waiting and watching for movement below.

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