Rob talks about his war

Rob Lowe served in Vietnam for 13 months. 118458 Picture: DONNA OATES


SHARING his Vietnam War experience helps Rob Lowe to deal with the demons that still invade his dreams.
The Noble Park Vietnam Veterans Association member has been with the Victorian sub-branch’s Education Team for 15 years.
“I am the eastern team leader – we have six teams – and I have four other Vietnam veterans in the team,” he said.
“Doing these presentations is the greatest medicine in releasing the demons and talking about your individual experiences.”
Mr Lowe said their presentations included videos, photos and stories about their time in Vietnam, and their return home.
He volunteered to join the army in April 1967 and was posted to Vietnam for 13 months during 1968 and 1969.
Two incidents from his tour remain clear in his mind, the first being the May Offensive of 1968.
“The enemy got to within 50 metres of our accommodation at Cholon – a suburb of Saigon,” he said.
“The most vivid incident is the day two Viet Cong guerrillas attached high explosives to the side of the bus myself and approximately 55 other Australians where travelling on.”
A quick-thinking soldier detached the satchel, but 24 hours later the gravity of the situation hit and Mr Lowe suffered delayed shock.
“These are the incidents that continue to trouble me today,” he said.
“Waking up in the middle of the night to find the sheets wet from heavy sweating having just had nightmares or tossing and turning remembering Vietnam.”
In August 1998 “Vietnam came back to bite me on the bum” and he was admitted to intensive care with severe breathing problems and a serious chest infection.
He was no longer able to work.
“I suddenly found myself with nothing to do and I struggled to handle the situation,” he said.
“I would get up around 10am turn on the television and just lay there all day.”
But 12 months later a Vietnam veteran showed up at his door and took him to Noble Park RSL.
“At this point in my life things began to change for the better,” he said.
Mr Lowe is also involved in the Aussie Veterans Op Shop and is the Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) Vietnam Association president.
“They’re heavily involved in assisting veterans of all wars and conflicts, war widows and the children of veterans in their hour of need,” he said.
He said Anzac Day was the day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and those who had since passed on.
“At the same time it gives the people of Australia the chance to support and say thankyou to those who came home,” he said.
“It is also a time when veteran mates gather together for that one day in April to chat, eat, drink a few ales and maybe play two-up.”