Valour quilt is a comfort

IN 1970 20-year-old Don Edwards received the letter that many dreaded – he’d been called up to do National Service with the Australian Army.
The war in Vietnam was well underway and he found himself in Nui Dat.
Fast forward to 2015 and Don and his wife Jenny are well-respected members of the Saffron Grove Retirement Village at Hallam, where they have lived since 2009.
This month the well-liked veteran is set to receive a quilt from Quilts of Valour, an organisation formed to present quilts to service members of the ADF in recognition of their sacrifice for Australia while deployed on combat operations.
“In January 1970, at the age of 20, I received a letter to notify me that I had been called up to do National Service with the Australian Army.
“I guess it was something all us guys at that age were fearful about receiving,” Don, who served in the Army from 26 November 1970 until 16 October 1971, said.
“I started off doing six weeks recruit training at Puckapunyal, Victoria, then went onto Corp Training at Singleton in NSW, which then led me to Ingleburn in NSW for assault pioneer training then to Canungra Queensland to the Jungle Training Centre then completed my training back at Ingleburn.
“Approximately after six months of training they then flew me to Vietnam where I arrived at the Reinforcement Training Unit in Nui Dat, then I was attached to 7 RAR where I completed their tour then transferred to 3 RAR.
“During the time in Vietnam I worked as an assault pioneer which included mine clearance, regular patrols in extreme conditions such as heat and rain.
“Two close comrades of mine were killed by exploding mines whilst on sentry duty, others wounded by shrapnel around me, I guess it was my lucky day that I didn’t get hit.
“Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, it was horrible.
“I guess we all missed the comforts of home as the conditions were poor.
“It wasn’t unusual to find ourselves wading through swamps with our entire clothing saturated – which caused health issues.
“Prior to arriving in Vietnam, the Americans sprayed the fields with Agent Orange.
“At the time we were unaware of the consequences of this until after we returned home and later on in our life we had to be tested to make sure we were all clear.
“After I completed my tour in Vietnam, I was transferred to HMAS Sydney and homeward bound to Adelaide then discharged from the Army at Watsonia, Melbourne.
“My experience in the Army was somewhat challenging in many ways as I have suffered from depression, different medical conditions etc, but I have been able to overcome all this with a loving family, a good wife and two great children supporting me all the way.”
He can now also add the support of his friends at Saffron Grove.
Don will be presented with his quilt by Helen Comport, whose own son was injured in a Black Hawk helicopter crash.
Saffron Grove is situated at 8 Saffron Drive, Hallam.