The Platoon Commander
By John O’Halloran with Ric Teague
Published by Hachette
RRP $ 34.99 in paperback | ISBN 9780733647475
Ric Teague, writing in the preface to this book, gives us a helpful pen picture of John O’Halloran, the national serviceman from Tamworth.
Rather than being a reluctant conscript, he convinced his local doctor to pass him fit for national service despite a foot injury.
As Teague explains, O’Halloran’s Vietnam story ‘… provides an insight into what it was like for an inexperienced junior officer in charge of a group of young men, most of them fellow nashos, in the early days of the conflict in Vietnam.’
O’Halloran would go on to lead with distinction as a platoon commander in 6RAR’s B Company at three of the biggest conflicts of the Vietnam War including Operation Hobart and the Battle of Long Tan.
But he faced his hardest military challenge at Operation Bribie, leading a fixed bayonet charge against a deadly Viet Cong jungle stronghold.
Teague has done an excellent job of helping O’Halloran tell his story of the realities and brutalities of war, and especially this war fought in jungles, not trenches, a war which would go on to bitterly divide Australian opinion.
Now regarded by many of his peers as a national treasure, O’Halloran has been quoted in almost every important book written about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, yet has never told his own remarkable story. Until now.
VERDICT: A fascinating first hand account that many readers will find engrossing.