At last the day of the Parade arrived. Here you can see the Australian flag, carried by John Wilson, as it flies proudly in
central Chicago. About a quarter of a million veterans marched in this parade, and an estimated half a million people lined
the streets of Chicago to cheer us on. A special moment in the Chicago Welcome Home Parade occurred when we stopped at the
saluting podium to make a presentation to the Mayor of Chicago. Peter Poulton had obtained a flag of the City of Wollongong
from his local Mayor, and asked me to present it to the Mayor of Chicago. The parade organisers arranged for us to stop in
the middle of the Parade and make this presentation. With the Mayor on the saluting podium were the Governor of the State
of Illinois, the former Commander of Allied Forces in Vietnam General William Westmoreland, and several members of Congress
from the Chicago area.
The picture below was taken immediately after the presentation. Behind me on the podium are
the Mayor of Chicago (wearing the cap) and the Governor of Illinois.
Sadly, I have to report that the man standing next to me in the above picture is not entitled
to wear the SAS beret or the Vietnam medals he is wearing.
His name is Geoff McGibbon. He was not one of the "Chicago Six." He joined us and marched
with us in Chicago, claiming to be an Australian SAS Vietnam veteran. He has since been exposed as a fake. If you click on
the picture, you will be taken to the website that exposes military fakes, where you can read the story of his exposure.
One of the real highlights of the parade occurred immediately following this presentation. As we marched off down the street
from the saluting podium, The cheering of the crowd seemed even more enthusiastic than it had been before. As we looked around,
we realised why. The parade had carried on in front of us while we stopped to make the presentation, and now the Windy City
Veterans Association, who were marching behind us, had stopped and allowed us to march on alone, so that the cheers of the
crowd would be for the Aussies and nobody else. This picture shows the view down La Salle Street as we marched off alone to
take the applause of the crowd. The picture also shows that tickertape fell like snow from the tall buildings in central Chicago
throughout the Parade. Whenever it started to build up on the streets, council workers came out and scooped it up, and sent
it back to the tops of the buildings so it could be thrown down again.
We met some remarkable people in Chicago. Here you see Gibbo and me with a true American hero, Congressional Medal of Honour
winner Sammy L Davis. Sammy's Congressional Medal of Honour can now be seen in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. To go
to Sammy's website, click on the picture.
A real highlight for me was meeting Chris Noel. I had been a huge fan when Chris was the voice of AFVN Radio in Vietnam in
1967-68. I met her in Chicago, although this picture was taken three years later in Pontiac, Michigan. The picture of us together
in Chicago didn't come out as well as this one.
Chris Noel is a remarkable woman. She acts, she sings, she writes
songs, she does inspirational and relaxation tapes, motivational speaking, and probably a lot more besides. She still entertains
Vietnam veterans whenever she can, and there are special personal reasons why she will never stop doing so. I enthusiastically
recommend her autobiography, "Matter of Survival". To go to the Chris Noel website, click on the picture.
Me and "Westie". In this picture General Westmoreland and I are being interviewed in the glare of the television
lights and cameras. At the moment this picture was taken, the General was saying some flattering things about the quality
of Australian service personnel under his command in Vietnam. If you click on the picture, you will go to a website that will
give you more information about General Westmoreland.
A group photo at one of the more enjoyable social events of the Chicago trip, the
Windy City Veterans Association's annual picnic. All of the Chicago Six are in this picture.
From left, Brian Duffy, President of the Windy City Veterans Association, Tom Stack, Chairman of the Chicago Vietnam Veterans
Welcome Home Parade Committee, and Gene Connell, lawyer for both the WCVA and the Welcome Home Parade. I am proud to say that
in this picture Tom is wearing an Aboriginal art t-shirt I gave him, and Gene is wearing my slouch hat, which was my gift
to him. Sadly, both Tom and Gene died of cancer within weeks of each other in 1994.
This is a special moment for Bob Gibson, at the WCVA picnic. Bob was unaware that
members of the WCVA had passed a copy of his poem "We Served Our Country" on to the singer/songwriter Jackie Marx, who put
music to Bob's words. In this picture, Bob, in the centre with the white shirt and long trousers, is hearing his own words
sung to him for the first time by Jackie, on the far left of the picture.
Click on this picture to go to Jackie's website.