Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Through a veteran's eyes

Bob Iskov has an important role. The 92-year-old was a member of the 2nd/14th Battalion who fought along the Kokoda Track during World War II. While many members of his former battalion have passed away or do not want to talk about their war experiences, Bob is one of the one's who "needs" to do it. 
Word War II veteran and retired Lieutenant Bob Iskov ( - ABC Local)

"I think there is a message to pass on particularly to the younger generation.
"I like to think that the kids in some of the schools are taking a great interest in the War and what led up to it and I hope that makes sure it doesn't happen again, that is my biggest concern."
Iskov and his battalion arrived on the frontline of the Kokoda Track in 1942. The Kokoda Track campaign was a significant battle in World War II between the Japanese and the Allied forces - who were mostly Australian.
He says Anzac Day should always be remembered for the sacrifices and the mateships made in combat. During the Kokoda battle he says the role of the local Papua New Guinean villagers, fondly known as the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angles, should always be remembered.
"The usual jollity and fun and games ceased as we realised we were going into a serious situation, people kept their thoughts to themselves.
"You couldn't afford to be scared; you couldn't afford to show it 'cos you didn't want to let your mates down.
"One of the greatest fears we had was not being killed but being wounded and left behind. Perhaps to be slaughtered by the Japanese or left in the jungle to die."
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels saved many soldiers lives.
"(During a battle) One of my boys Bruce Cooper, he was a tough Kalgoorlie miner, he got a bit of shrapnel in his backside, we put him on a stretcher with another few who had been wounded... A group of Fuzzy Wuzzy's were brought in and took the stretchers away from us. They went way into the bush and the wounded spent the next 29 days in the hands of the Fuzzy Wuzzy's who kept them supplied with food but they would have had no medical supplied... Bruce Copper survived, the story is the maggots got into his backside and kept the wound clean otherwise he probably would have got gangrene and not survived.
"We could not have fought without them because they carried our rations, our stores, our ammunition and they had to carry enough food to feed themselves... They did it with a smile on their face.
"When I was in New Guinea just recently people came up to me in the street the woman doing the bedroom in the hotel I was staying at came up and said 'I want to thank you for saving our country'. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and put her arms around me and she was genuine.
"There is still a huge bond between Australian and the Funny Wuzzy's and that will never die."
Bob Iskov lives in Wangaratta in north east Victoria.

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