As featured by Toni Whitmont in the October Booktopia Buzz.
Tony 'Bomber' Bower-Miles was a young sapper in the Australian Army when he first went to Vietnam in the late 1960s. Land mines were one of the biggest threats faced by troops on both sides, and much of Bomber's work involved laying or clearing these terrible devices.
He saw mates and colleagues killed and horribly injured around him, in a war that was confusing, terrifying and devastating to everyone that it touched.
He returned to Australia scarred, battered and unable to relate to a peacetime world. Alcohol became his way of escaping, and his life spiralled down into addiction and violence. But Bomber wasn't ready to let the war beat him after all these years.
In 2001, he returned to South-East Asia, putting his old skills to work in the dangerous job of clearing the millions of forgotten land mines that litter Cambodia. Starting from scratch, with makeshift equipment, Bomber established the NGO Vietnam Veterans' Mine Clearing Team.
This is his story. Tough and uncompromising, it reveals the true face of war in all its brutality. But it also tells of redemption and humanity: a tale of real Australian heroism.
About the Author
Tony "Bomber" Bower-Miles was born in Victoria in 1950, and moved up to Queensland when he was eight. A childhood love of explosives, coupled with his father's tales of military life, led him to join the army at 17. In 1969 he went to Vietnam. Life after the war proved tough, however, and Bomber went on a downward spiral into alcoholism and the many symptoms of PTSD.
Eventually he returned to Asia in 2001, having heard about mine clearance efforts going on in Cambodia, a country devastated by decades of war and repression. Inspired by the people he met there, Bomber is now spending his retirement raising funds and helping to clear the mines littering the countryside.
Number Of Pages: 292
Published: 1st October 2009
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.4 x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.476