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Nineteen years old
when you flew him home,
combat fatigue you said
as you handcuffed him
to the steel guts
of the Hercules,
for his own safety,
I understand.

Stopped over at Alice Springs,
took him off the plane,
incredibly violent
a killer they said,
and you chained him again
to a strange motel bed.

No food or water for that broken kid
after all he'd flipped his lid,
seen too much for his tender years
too bloody dangerous to be on the loose,
his wild, murderous eyes
the ultimate proof.

Eighteen hours later
he stood in our land,
broken and frightened
and full of Vietnam,
strange smoky visions
and noise in his head,
he felt held much rather
be laid out and dead.

The sounds of peace
were strange to him,
no deadly tracks
or crushing din,
and a grateful government
patted him on the head
and down the road
went tranquillised,
quite numb and feeling dead.

Ten years later
in a fit of condescension
the War Pensions Board
gave the kid a pension,
but no one told his mother
her kid was finally home,
as he wandered quietly off
lost and so alone.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR


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