This poem was written in 1997 (and updated in 2014) for the late 39556 Warrant Officer Class 1 John "Scoff" Cootes MBE who was my platoon sergeant in Borneo (1966) and in Viet Nam (1967). He passed away on 7th June 2009 at his home in Ngaruawahia and now lies at rest on Taupiri Mountain.

The poem is dedicated to him and to all of the Original Victor Company Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment

Softly I Hear You

Softly I hear you
across the marae
at Turangawaewae
down through the times from
Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam,
and across the intervening
forty years or more,
and though the ears are
growing old, sprouting hairs
like my grandfather's,
they instinctively know
that barely heard whistle,
just a fine-pitched whisper
really, dancing on the air,
flitting through the trees
and along the jungle track
for our ears only, so quiet
an enemy would never know,
but calling my name, as clear
as if you shouted it
from the mountain top
forty years ago, echoing
still in my head, "Over here",
it says, "Over here",
and I turn my head, smiling,
and see you standing there,
still, we two highly trained
fit and strong young men,
alert to ever-present danger,
a finely tuned team, we two,
in tiring bodies now, but
living just that instant
in another time.

Ross Nepia Himona