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  3. The Scheyville Experience

The Scheyville Experience

Conscription and the Vietnam War were the big issues of the late 60's and early 70's. Young men were called up in thousands, Their fate determined by a lottery. Some were needed as junior officers for the expanded army. They were put through a gruelling, experimental six-month course at the specially- created Officer Training Unit located at Scheyville at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Only a few would get there, nearly half would fail. Within months many would be leading regular and national service soldiers against the Vietcong. Yet these young men had no military background, no career ambitions. They were plucked unexpectedly and unwillingly from all walks of life - from the farms, from the university campuses, from their jobs, from their families. After national service they went on to achieve significant success in life - senior academics, career professionals, successful industrialists and businessmen, senior political leaders. But did they succeed as leaders of men in battle? Did the experience change them? What was their motivation? Would they be accepted by the regulars? Was the experiment a success? Was national service the right answer?

War | Australia | 1997

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