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Man who inspired song I Was Only 19 marches in M'boro

MICHAEL Storen was only 19 when he was deployed to Vietnam - but most Australians already know that.

His mum, dad and sister Denny saw his passing out parade, and his platoon commander was killed by a land mine, the day man landed on the moon - and most people know that too.

That's because Mr Storen's time as a young serviceman in the 6th Battalion was the inspiration for what has become one of the country's most iconic songs, I Was Only 19.

It all came from a discussion with his brother-in-law John Schumann that lasted for less than four hours.

Months later, Mr Schumann came back to him with the lyrics of what has become one of Australia's most iconic songs - I Was Only 19.

Michael Storen's experiences during the war have been immortalized in the song I was Only 19.
Michael Storen's experiences during the war have been immortalized in the song I was Only 19. Robyne Cuerel

While he knew Mr Schumann intended to turn their discussion into a song about the war, he didn't know it would be such a personal experience.

The song details the day - the same day man landed on the moon - when a land mine explosion killed their platoon commander and injured 15 of his fellow soldiers.

The song almost didn't come to be, with resistance from Mr Schumann's band Redgum against recording it as a single.

"They didn't think anything would come of it," Mr Storen said.

"Little did they know.

"It became a bit of a rallying point."

The song - and Mr Storen's story - has now been turned into a children's book illustrated in water colour.

The book is now available from online retailers after its release last month.

Mr Storen and his fellow 6th Battalion, A Company veterans mentioned in the song marched behind their own banner at Maryborough's Anzac Day march on Friday.

The march attracted a massive crowd of people who lined Adelaide St and Sussex St, applauding veterans that included those from the National Servicemen's Association, the Second World War and a contingency from the Royal Australian Navy.

It was led by the flags of Australia, New Zealand, Queensland and the Returned Servicemen's League to the main ceremony at the Queens Park Cenotaph.

A fly-over from an F-18 Super Hornet jet concluded the official Anzac Day ceremonies in Maryborough.

Topics:  anzac day, march, maryborough, parade, vietnam veteran




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