Hunter tracks his time with dog Milo in ’Nam
YOU only have to cast your eye over Bob Hunter to know he'd be a real character with a good yarn or two to tell.
Bob has a beer at the pub at Copmanhurst as he tells of his younger years.
"I left school in the second year of high school... I was never any good at it," he said. "Things just didn't sink in."
Bob broke into the working world as an apprentice farrier, but the money was barely enough to pay his board.
"I was 17 when I joined the army," he said.
"I just wanted to find a decent and stable job.
"Then I ended up in 'Nam."
Bob was 19 years old when he flew into the war.
He was a member of the 4RAR Infantry Battalion, but became part of the combat tracking team, working with military dogs.
"Plenty of people wanted to work in the trackers, but I was lucky enough to get in," he said.
"We flew with the dogs in the helicopters... you had to be with your dog the whole time.
"My dog's name was Milo.... I can still remember his Army number... it was D7N6.
"He was my mate; he was like part of me over there."
Bob and Milo's task was to work ahead of the formation and check for signs of the enemy.
"You always had that thought in the back of your mind - you had your team behind you and you and your dog were leading them into whatever was ahead," he said. "It was a lot of responsibility for a 19-year-old kid."
When Bob returned home from Vietnam, he found it hard to settle down.
"I couldn't put up with the city and all the people. I decided I was going bush," he said.
From then, Bob worked on stations, as a truck driver, and as a stable foreman, among other occupations.
"At one stage I ended up on the rodeo circuit, riding bulls and saddle broncs," he said.
"I also spent time with the Sole Brothers Circus... I looked after the horses and the monkeys. The monkeys were just like kids... there was good ones and naughty ones."
Life eventually lead to Copmanhurst.
"I got crook and the doctor said I'd better get to a warmer place," he said.
"I was headin' for Queensland and stopped in to see a fella here. He told me of a place to rent and I've been in Copmanhurst ever since."
Bob has since made some good mates and still helps with the occasional muster.
"Time doesn't worry me no more," he said.
"I'll never leave here."
Combat tracker teams
Milo was one of 11 dogs that served with Australians in the Vietnam War.
The length of duty for a tracker dog was around three years.
Once their service ended in Vietnam, the dogs were not allowed to return to Australia due to quarantine costs.
They were kept by the battalion in reserve, then given as pets to European or Australian families living in Saigon