By LACHLAN MOORHEAD
VIETNAM veteran Martin ‘Shady’ Lane carries the war with him in more ways than one.
The 62-year-old regularly wears a motorcycle jacket patched with the words ‘Vietnam Veterans’ on his back, the name of the motorcycle club he has been a member of since 1994.
On Friday Shady stood with his fellow club members outside the Casey council offices as hundreds of people commemorated Anzac Day with a minute’s silence at the annual Narre Warren Dawn Service and later that morning rode with his club during the Cranbourne march.
Shady, who served in Vietnam as a quartermaster gunner with the Royal Australian Navy, said the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club (VVMC) began in the early ’90s after those who fought in Vietnam found themselves mostly excluded from Anzac rhetoric as a result of ill-feeling towards the war.
“We went through a rough time when we first came home and everything, so this is a good relief for us,” Shady said, speaking about the Narre Warren service.
“I feel more recognised now and I feel like I’m welcomed back, whereas there was a while there when you didn’t want much to do with people.
“It makes me feel more open now, I’m more willing to go out and come to things like this and this one’s been good because it’s grown every year.
“It’s massive now compared to what it used to be – when we first came down we were lucky to have 100 people here.”
Beginning with just a Victorian chapter and allowing only Vietnam veterans to join, the VVMC is now an Australian-wide organisation that accepts non-veterans.
Mick, 46, hasn’t served but is now a ‘memorial rider’ and member of the club after joining the group for a ride to Adelaide in 2006.
Mick said the VVMC runs like “clockwork”.
“Even the blokes who weren’t in the military, it doesn’t take long to catch on that everyone’s got a role,” he said.
“At the end of the day they welcome you as well, even though you haven’t got a military background.”