On April 25, forty seven years ago, Corporal Roy Mundine survived a land mine explosion at Long Green during the Vietnam War, he says.
"One of the blokes [at the April 25 Anzac Day commemoration in Sydney] reminded me today. He said to me, 'remember this day 47 years ago?'," Corporal Mundine, a Bundjalung man, told The Point on the day Australia holds its annual commemoration of its military service personnel.
Just as Corporal Mundine was about to give further instructions to his section after sighting enemy bunkers during his 1969 tour in Vietnam, he detonated a mine that severely injured his leg.
Despite being wounded, he ordered his section to stay clear of the area, which was later found to be an enemy minefield, and continued giving instructions for nearly an hour until engineers had cleared a path through the area.
The Australian Army acknowledged his leadership, such as that exampled back in 1969, by awarding Corporal Mundine the inaugural Australian Army Indigenous Elder of the Year during a ceremony in Canberra in late April.
"It's a great honour to be selected by the military," Corporal Mundine says.
As the army’s Indigenous elder, Mr Mundine is tasked to represent serving and ex-serving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island personnel, advise the army’s senior leadership, and represent the army at Indigenous events such as National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week.
Mr Mundine says he hopes to set a good example for the younger generation.
"As I go around and talk to people, especially the young people...it gets them interested in joining the military, and you can get a great education, in some cases, they would never otherwise get the chance to do that."
Lieutenant General David Morrison, the 2016 Australian of the Year, says Mr Mundine’s appointment as Indigenous Elder is an “important milestone” for the Australian Army and acknowledges “the proud history of service that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have provided” to the Army and the nation.
"He is an influential voice on issues related to Indigenous veterans and young people," Lt-Gen Morrison says. "We are privileged that he has agreed to be the Army’s Elder."
Mr Mundine enlisted in 1958 and served in Malaya in 1959 with 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment before he was deployed in South Vietnam with 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in 1966 and 1969.
He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1987 for his service as the Quartermaster of 49th Royal Queensland Regiment before he retired in 1995 as a Warrant Officer Class One.