Extract from interview with Glen Strang – 24 April 2010
Reproduced with permission of Glen Strang
So, when you were growing up as a child, was Vietnam an issue that he actively tried to avoid? Or did he just keep it to very simple levels of discussion, not really giving you any sort of insight?
It was not so much taboo. I was always there to listen to a story. I’d ask the odd question here and there, but I always respected his feelings. I’d accept whatever he would talk about. As a kid – your father went to war – it was a big thing, you know. As a kid you do the cowboys and Indians, you play at war. My friends would come round. They were kids – they would shout out ‘How many people have you killed?’ That sort of thing, you know. And he wouldn’t answer that, but I could see the look on his face – that’s not something you ask or say. But they were kids – I never did that, but I noticed my friends [that] was the first thing they would say.
But like I said, I’d hear more about it when he would bang into an old friend, someone else who was there, and I’d hear a story. I heard a lot of humorous stories, a lot of the fun times they had. Maybe going to sleep on an ant hill for the night, waking up covered in ants. Little stories like that. Flicking ant nests from branches on the person behind them. Stupid little stories, you know. Comic relief sort of thing. But as for, what really happened, that’s why I’m here. Pick up what I can pick up.
Having just spoken to your father, he did mention there was quite a negative reaction to his efforts over here. What are your thoughts on that? Do you feel that might have been one of the reasons why he didn’t come forward and speak to you openly? And I guess, if he wasn’t speaking to you, perhaps he wasn’t speaking to other members of the family. He just closed off.
Perhaps he might have discussed things more with my mother. I don’t know because that was personal conversations. He wouldn’t intentionally hide or lie anything from me. But the negative impact – I wasn’t involved with it, I come [from the] next generation. But it angers me a lot. Especially the comments of ‘it’s not a real war. That wasn’t a real war’.