Norman Frederick GOMM, known as Norm, was interviewed by Patti Bolt for the Busselton Oral History Group (Inc) on the 27th March 2014. It is one of a series of recorded interviews with ex-service personnel funded by Lotterywest to celebrate the Anzac Centenary.
Norm was born in Richmond, Victoria on the 19th June 1936. His father was Norman George and his mother was Gladys Jessie, nee Wright.
He attended Brighton State School and Brighton Technical College leaving school at 15 to work as an assistant in a radio laboratory at AG Healings Ltd. He went on to the Royal Melbourne Technical College and gained an Applied Physics Diploma.
In 1955 he undertook National Service Training in Puckapunyal. Norm spent two years in the Army Reserve in the 2nd Field Regiment.
In 1957 he worked for the Defence Research Laboratories in X-Ray Defraction and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.
He married Janet Edwards and had two children.
Norm ran the physics section of the Defence Research Laboratories office in Adelaide for one year then worked at the Weapons Research Establishment.
In 1964 he joined the Citizen Military Forces (CMF).
He went to Vietnam as a soldier/scientist in the Field Research section with American units in the field and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
He saw the brutality of war and later was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He talks about the Phoenix Programme and says he can relate to the film Apocalypse Now.
He was offered a Bronze Star medal but the Australian Defence force wouldn’t allow him to accept it.
Returned to Australia in 1970. Norm was appointed to Canberra then he went to Washington as Assistant Defence Research and Development Attaché.
He didn’t attend Anzac Day parades for many years because of the negative feeling of many people towards the Vietnam War. In 2000 he marched in his first Anzac Day parade in Perth and joined the RSL.
Norm’s wife Janet passed away from cancer then he married Norma and they moved to Busselton to live in 2006. There he joined the WA Bush Fire Service.
Norm sums up with his personal thoughts on war in general.