Rules won't stop Vietnam Veteran from toasting mates on Anzac Day

NT News  April 25, 2016

GEOFF Shaw served two tours of Vietnam, he has an Order of Australia Medal and he even features on the cover of a Federal Government Veteran’s Affairs pamphlet.

But Mr Shaw, 71, is probably the only Digger who would be breaking the law to have his mates around for a beer this Anzac Day.

Mr Shaw has lived at Mt Nancy town camp in Alice Springs all his life. As part of the 2007 Northern Territory Emergency Response all Territory town camps, populated exclusively by Aborigines, became dry zones under Commonwealth law.

Mr Shaw admits he sometimes flouts the restrictions – he feels he has earned the right.

“I feel a bit of PTSD coming on and I want a beer to relax, to get over that hurdle,” he said.

“I did Malaya and Borneo, two tours of Vietnam, I got all these medals and I can’t have a drink here.”

Mr Shaw was sent to Vietnam in 1966.

He would spend nearly two years there, rising to the rank of corporal with 10 men under his command.

The small group was a “United Nations” of backgrounds,” Mr Shaw said.

“There was no issues of race.

“We were all dressed in green.”

Three of his men would be killed just metres from him in three separate incident in 1968 and 1969. He has battled with post-traumatic stress disorder ever since.

“The wife and kids they see me sitting out there with a tear in my eye and they leave me alone,” he said. “It just comes up now and again.”

Mr Shaw recalled an occasion he had just been to the RSL and brought home a sixpack of beer. On hearing a domestic violence incident in the nearby riverbed he called police who arrived only to tip out his open can and take the other five.

“I said ‘I just came back from the RSL’ and they said ‘You can go back to the f***ing RSL, you can’t drink here.”