Saluting three generations on Anzac Day

Published 5:00am 23 April 2024

Saluting three generations on Anzac Day
Words by Nick Crockford

Jurgen (Gus) Gutschmidt, a Vietnam veteran and resident at Bolton Clark Fernhill in Caboolture, is commemorating three generations of service on Anzac Day.

That includes remembering his grandfather whop was an advisor to the Turks at Gallipoli and his uncle who was in the French Foreign Legion.

Gus, who served with the Australian Army in Vietnam, moved to Australia from Germany in 1954.

“My father brought us over to get away from the military in Germany, I was only seven at the time but I always had an interest in military service,” he said. 

Foreign Legion

“My uncle was in Vietnam in the French Foreign Legion long before I was there, my father was an air force fitter and turner in Germany and my grandfather on my mother’s side fought in Gallipoli and was an adviser to the Turks.

“I can live with all of that, because I wasn’t born around that time – I was born in ’47 but the other part is, when you become a citizen of another country, that country becomes first so for me Australia comes first, Germany is just a place that I was born.”

After finishing school in Adelaide, Gus joined up, with his mother’s support.

“I found the army life for single people was fantastic. I liked the discipline, timing, and everything,” he said.

Gus Gutschmidt during his Army service in Vietnam.

“I was in the army for just over four years before I was medically discharged when I was 21.

“I was screwed up mentally, but my parents really looked after me. They didn’t know what was wrong, but they stood by me and that’s something I’ll never forget.”

Gus slowly eased back into normal life and eventually met his late wife, Silvie. “Silvie helped me a lot – she understood and that was the biggest part,” he says.

“When she was 37 she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and was given six months to live but fought it for 20 years. The doctors and experts just couldn’t believe it.

Really special day

“It was a beautiful marriage and we had the opportunity to end up having 20 more years together.”

These days, Gus enjoys life at Bolton Clarke’s Fernhill retirement village and says it’s the best thing for him.

“Life is full of a lot of different experiences and what I have gone through is nothing compared to other people - I regard myself as being lucky,” he says.

“With Anzac Day coming up, I think it’s a really special day and I think we need to start recognising our soldiers from all of the conflicts that aren’t necessarily mentioned - enough like Borneo, for example.”

The Bolton Clarke Fernhill community will be hosting the Anzac Day dawn service with RSL Caboolture on Thursday at 4.50am.

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