The Great Unknown - Poem

Submitted by Richard Willia… on

In memory of Keith Hurman, KIA January 1969. Our brother in arms.

Join the army and see the world
The hand written notice declared
Be in Vietnam in eighteen months
As on and on I read

So I signed the dotted line
With others who had come from near and far
We did our training at Waiouru and Burnham
And at that place called little Malaya

Then it was on to Terendak
With the 28th Commonwealth Brigade
We honed our skills as soldiers
Vietnam wasn’t far away

Finally one sunny day in November
The year was 1968
We walked the dusty red earth of Vietnam
Man I thought I was great

On to the hill called the Horseshoe
to spend some time to acclimatise
We looked upon the village of Dat Do
and across to the mountains called the Long Hai's

To the left in the distance was the Long Green
Where old charlie the enemy held the ground
It was suspected old Charlie used the cover
To sneak into Dat Do without a sound

It was from the Horseshoe we began to patrol
The areas where the enemy might be
It was sooner rather than later we were to learn the price
of war it was only mid January

The night was as black as the ace of spades
And magnified each jungle sound
We lay in our shell scrapes wide awake
With our weapons pointing outward on the dug out mound

The great unknown allows the mind to trace
each sound you hear
to conjure up a picture of what you think is there

The looming picture the darkness bought
was of old Charlie or the NVA
But we were armed and ready for any onslaught
to fight like hell come what may

There was a single shot a thunderous roar
and the clatter of small arms fire
I grabbed my weapon from the mound here they come
I'll wait till I see their beady eyes that what the brass require

I lay on the mound shaking
Watching for the shadows to move<
Watching for the flash of gunfire watching waiting
With my trusty SLR to use

The initial contact came from the right
Where number three section held the perimeter
I could hear them scurrying around here and there
too much noise as I remember

The darkness cast a ghostly shadow
that mocked us in every way
The silence oozed an eerie feeling
I knew one of our own had passed away

How could this be? Why was it so?
My mind began to race with fear
With the grace of God go I and the others
Lest we all fall into despair

Keith Hurman was our comrade’s name
And dustoff came to fly him home
At least he will be free from the worries of this war
While we are left to roam

The loss of a friend a brother in arms
Is a terrible weight to bare
The hurt and grief lay deep inside
And if you crack your heart could tear


© Richard William Hamon. Not to be published or reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.

How to cite this page: ' The Great Unknown - Poem ', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 05-Sep-2013