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‘Tunnel Rat’ visits Bourke

Vietnam Veterans together - Victor Bartley with Gary Lourigan of Goulburn. Gary was a ‘tunnel rat’ during the Vietnam War. Photo Twh

Gary Lourigan is a Vietnam veteran who performed what was arguably one of the most terrifying roles during that war.

He was known as a ‘tunnel rat’ – an engineer tasked with detecting unexploded bombs, often hidden down tunnels by the enemy.

Gary survived his underground experience and is now a proud veteran who does much for the veteran community in Goulburn.

He was in Bourke during the lead up to Anzac Day to meet up with RSL President, Victor Bartley, and contribute some of his memorabilia to the Anzac display at the Bourke Bowling Club - and to enjoy some recreation out west.

Gary was a ‘sapper’, an engineer private who supported the infantry in close combat, checking for enemy mines and unexploded ordinances dropped by Australian and US forces.

It was not a job for the faint-hearted.

Gary is reluctant to call himself brave, and said he was simply performing the job he was trained to do.

“If the personnel were out on patrol and one stepped on a mine, it would turn out to be a bad day,” he said. “Our job was to retrieve the wounded and the bodies.

“Where booby traps had been set, it was the same deal - we would go down tunnels and clear them of personnel, recover documents and deal with the unexploded mines. […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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