After Vietnam: How Martial Arts Helped Phillip With His PTSD
He was posted to Australia’s oldest continuous-service infantry company in South Vietnam, the Defense and Employment Platoon (D&E).
He walked over to his assigned tent, finding that the rest of his unit was in operation… and the quarters were dirty.
“As a typical good Australian Chinese, I started cleaning the tent and removing the mosquito net,” Phillip recalls with a smile.
“At that point I was hungry, outside each tent there is a scraping hole for your boots, I cleaned the scraping hole and started a fire. I was cooking instant noodles and had a pair of chopsticks that I brought from home. I had my shirt on because it smelled hot.
“So here I am, I’m crouching over that shirtless hole, cooking my noodles with chopsticks, then the rest of the guys came back, they were shocked.”
“They saw me crouching down, some guy said, ‘What’s that stuff doing in the lines?’
“He said it very loudly, everyone stopped walking and talking, they were staring at me.
“I got up and turned around, groaned and said ‘hey you’ silly effin, I’m not a gook you wanker. ‘
“That’s when they realized I was a reinforcement and not an enemy.
Shortly after, an officer asked Phillip to become the unit’s new front scout, if he wore a “straw hat” and “black pajamas”.
“Because I looked like the enemy, because I was Chinese,” Phillip said.
It’s an order that would put Phillip directly in the sights of his comrades, and it’s something he refused.
“I was Charlie from start to finish for the rest of my tour… the guy at the back of the pack, who ate everyone’s dust,” Phillip recalls.