Ross was conscripted into the Seventh Intake of national Service from January 1967
to January 1968. Whilst not being thrilled to be conscripted he embraced life in the
Army and made the most of the two years.
When posted to 1RAR at Holdsworthy Ross became a skilled radio operator and
was subsequently assigned to D Company and promoted to Corporal. He spent his
time in Vietnam as their radio operator. This meant that Ross was very much
involved in the close-quarter contacts in the Battle of Fire Support Patrol Base Coral
in May of 1968. There is no doubt that this experience shaped his views on life in
general and influenced his art from his pencil sketches in Vietnam to the ‘Snippets of
the Western Front’.
Ross was proud of his service in the army but like so many Battle of Coral Veterans
was frustrated by the lack of public knowledge and recognition of the battles and
their consequences. At every opportunity Ross would strive to create awareness of
the Battle of Coral and to promote knowledge of it. Four years ago a group of Coral
Veterans set out to rectify this lack of recognition and formally presented a
submission to Defence. On 13 May 2018, exactly 50 years later, the Battle of Coral
Balmoral was formally recognised by the belated awarding the Australian Unit
Citation for Gallantry to all who served in the battle and to the major Units that
participated. Besides being the largest Australian Battle of the Vietnam War it is now
recognised as one of the iconic battles in Australian Military history. Not only did the
‘Diggers’ of Coral Balmoral live up to the traditions of those who went before, they
also wrote their own chapter of the ANZAC Spirit.
Had Ross been with us during this period he would have been deeply involved in
attaining this recognition. Naturally if he was still with us, he, like all of us, would now
be standing tall and proud of our achievements in May of 1968, knowing that full
recognition has now been achieved.
‘Rest Easy Ross! Your duty is done’
Alan (Jack) Parr