True Blue – The story of a man battling PTSD and Depression

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15696 FLSGT Gerald O’sullivan

Gerald joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1956 as an engine fitter. After doing his training in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Gerald served in several depots around Sydney and Amberly.

Wagga Engine hanger
Engine School Wagga Wagga, NSW

Gerald was posted to 82 Wing, Bombers Sqn for one year, He later posted to Malaya in 1961 to 77 Squadron Fighter Sqn, where he would be servicing F86 Sabres.

North American F-86F-35-NA  Sabre
F86 Sabre flying 

During his time in the fighter squadrons which lasted about 10 years, he served in 3 Sqn, 75 Sqn, 76 Sqn, 77 Sqn and 79 Sqn, all which had F86 Sabres.

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CAC F86 Sabres lined up in Malaya

Gerald’s first war time experience was when he was alerted by the
Southeast Asian treaty Organisation (SEATO) to defend Thailand against Laos, Gerald’s outfit was sent to Ubon Ratchathani, where he spent two tours.

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Ubon Ratchathani Airbase 1960’s

During Gerald’s first tour, he had a red alert and was ordered to prepare fighting pits, he was issued with a SMLE .303 and 30 rounds of ammunition without signing for them. Gerald’s commanders issued orders for them to prepare for immanent action; however, nothing eventuated. The Second tour Gerald describes it as just sitting at base servicing equipment going into Vietnam, the true phase of war, waiting, waiting and waiting some more.

In 1964 Gerald was sent to Singapore as Indonesia had made claims that they would attack Singapore and Australia. Gerald’s unit would be positioned at the Airstrip in Changi where they would be under constant scrambles against the Indonesian Air force.

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Changi Airbase 1964

After returning to Australia, many opportunities arose for Gerald to serve overseas again; however, he would turn them down. After being posted to Darwin, Gerald would now be introduced to a new aircraft, The Mirage, where he stayed until he was posted to Support command.

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Mirage Jets lined up on the tarmac in Darwin, NT

Many years after leaving the Air Force, Gerald decided to see a Psychiatrist, as the daily reminder of the constant threat of potential frontline combat during his tour to Malaya had taken it’s tole. He was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Gerald’s coping mechanism for this prior to seeing the specialist was by masking the problems with heavy alcohol consumption for some 40 years.

Gerry O'Sullivan, Roger 'Hap' Pryor a.jpg
Gerald Pictured Left

Gerald was later sent to the Keith Payne Unit at Greenslopes Private Hospital to undergo intensive rehabilitation and therapy to control his heavy drinking, Depression and PTSD.

I had the privilege of meeting Gerald whilst I to was undergoing my own treatment for PTSD, Major Depression and Attempted Suicide, Gerald was one of those blokes that would take the time to sit down and have a chat no matter what the time of day or business he had to attend to. Gerald is what we call a True Blue Bloke.

 

 

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