Hillville's Rodney O'Regan OAM VA has a pair of very special boots that have only ever been worn three times in more than half a decade, and they hold quite a story.
He was given them by a friend, Ashley Eyles, on return from service in Vietnam, for Rodney to wear while serving in Vietnam himself as an engineer in 2 Troop 1 Field Squadron, with strict instructions to bring both himself and the boots back home to Australia intact.
Rodney tells the story.
"In August 1967 Ashley and I both joined the NSW Police Force and commenced our career at the NSW Police Training Centre.
"Ashley had just returned from Vietnam after completing two years National Service; 12 months of that was in South Vietnam with the 5th Battalion on their first tour of duty. He was attached to Mortar Platoon and was in fact deployed with a section to an old French villa with the Australian training team some three kilometres away from where the battle of Long Tan was taking place.
"Whilst in my police training I was also in the Citizens Military Forces as a military policeman, and when Ashley became aware of this I told him that I had volunteered for National Service and wanted to go to Vietnam.
"A short time later he arrived at the Mounted Police sectioned where I was stationed, with a highly spit-polished pair of army GP boots and told me, 'I have only worn these boots once and that was in the coming home parade when the battalion marched through the streets of Sydney. They are highly polished as that is all I had to do on the aircraft carrier returning home from Vietnam. I want you to wear these boots to Vietnam and return in 12 months with both these boots and you intact'.
"He then presented me with the boots.
"Some 55 years later I still have these boots, highly polished, and they served me well with my tour of duty in Vietnam.
"I didn't wear them on active service in Vietnam; they were worn only on the flight over and back as dress boots," Rodney concluded.
Ashley Eyles had a successful career as a Detective Sergeant in the Fingerprint section and Rodney attained the rank of Detective Senior Sergeant Patrol Commander.
After leaving the police force, Ashley retired to North Haven, and the friends catch up every few months.
They will also be spending Anzac Day together in Sydney this year and will be marching with the Police contingent.
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