The Nashos' War: Australia's national servicemen and Vietnam, Mark Dapin
On 10 March 1965, the first nasho's birthdate was drawn from a lottery barrel at the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne. Over the next seven years, a total of 63740 young Australian men would be drafted into the army and face the prospect of being sent to war.
The nashos came from all walks of life: plumbers and dentists, footballers and musicians, Christians and Jews, willing and unwilling. Some spent their two years square-bashing in Singleton. Others went to Vietnam to fight – and die – in Australia's bloodiest battles, including the slaughter at Long Tan.
But our ideas of national service contain strange contradictions and inaccuracies: that the draft was unpopular but militarily necessary; that the nashos in Vietnam all volunteered to go to war; and that they were met by protesters and demonstrations on their return to Australia, rather than the huge welcome-home parades reported at the time.