MAPgroup photographer, Susan Gordon-Brown is nearing the end of a three year project photographing and interviewing Vietnam vets from all over Australia. Titled ‘Behind The Wire, Images and Stories of Vietnam Veterans’, will start its national tour at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, QLD. 6Th June 2014.
“For the past three years I have been photographing and interviewing Vietnam vets from all over Australia. I have been asking them about their training prior to Vietnam, daily tasks on tour and life since their return to Australia. I have been speaking with national servicemen and regulars. I have spoken to soldiers of all ranks and with a variety of jobs such as: cooks, dental assistants, truck drivers, tank drivers, forward scouts, riflemen, training team members, civilian nurses and more. Much has been written about the politics and military battles and strategy but I am interested in finding out about day-to-day life, how our guys coped with the situations they were put in and how they settled into life on their return to Australia.
The exhibition will have new portraits of the veterans shown alongside their photos from the time, together with textboards where they share their story.”
– Susan Gordon-Brown.
For many, even before symptoms of repressed trauma manifested themselves, there was the dispiriting sense of not actually being welcome at home. Not until much later, too late, were there parades and proper recognition of what they had done. Even within the ranks of ex-service personnel there was, at first, often only grudging acceptance of their dangerous work overseas. Homecomings that had been so eagerly awaited became a series of rebuffs and even outright rejection.
– Alan Attwood, journalist and author.
‘I went to see one of my mates, Steve. Before the Army I used to be at his house regularly; I was like one of the family. His father said Steve wasn’t in. I said: “Aren’t you going to invite me in?” He stood there for a minute and then the mother came and said: “Well, John, you’re no longer welcome here. We don’t allow baby- and women-killers in this house.”’
– John Haward, Vietnam vet.
For more information please visit www.behindthewire.com.au where there is more information about this important exhibition.
Susan would like to give her heartfelt thanks to the vets who opened themselves up to her tape-recorder and camera so that their stories could be told as well as the generous sponsors without which such a project simply could not be.