Vietnam Vet denied Australian passport — citizenship revoked

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A German-born Vietnam Veteran who lied about his age to enlist in 1967 has, in 2013, been denied an Australian passport. Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence reports.

Australians in Vietnam
Australians in Vietnam

MEMO TO PRIME MINISTER, Kevin Rudd, the Minister for Defence Stephen Smith, the Minister for Immigration Tony Burke, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Scott Morrison and the Minister for Bureaucratic Lunacy and Doing Dopey Things in Our Name.

Please get this sorted.

On Sunday, politicians clothed in hypocrisy, pre-election hyperbole and faux camouflage nervously acknowledged Vietnam Veterans Day and the 47th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

In the late evening of the same day, a lone Vietnam Veteran ‒ Michael Kramer ‒ clearly had endured a gutful and reached out to fellow Digger, Jock O'Neill, in this email:
Sent: Sunday, August 18, 2013 10:40 PM

G’day Jock,

Have a small problem in that the Australian Department on Immigration has seen fit to refuse to grant me a passport and to also cancel my Australian Naturalisation Certificate. The background is the following: enlisted in1967, service number was 7141, corps was Infantry, units in Vietnam were 1RAR and D&E Platoon Nui Dat.

I freely admit that I lied about my age and that altered the date of birth of on my Naturalisation Certificate from 01/Marc/1947 (true age) to 01/March/1946. This was done because I considered myself to be an Australian even though I was German born. If I had not done so, I would have needed the written permission of my parents and this would not have been possible, at the time I was twenty years old, and I needed to be 21 in order to have any say in a matter affecting me.

Three years ago, my wife and I both applied for Australian passports at the Albury Post Office. As Carolyn is Australian born, hers went through immediately and without hitch. When my turn came, they noticed the age difference between the Certificate of Service and the Certified True copy of the birth certificate and did not even bother looking at the accompanying Stat Deck, which explained the whole thing.

The next thing I knew was that the Australian Department of Immigration became involved and they threatened to send me to jail for two years for falsifying an official document. This of course made me get upon my high horse and say “Bring it on”, I will be happy to see you in court”’

Then the demands from the Dept. of Immigration started. Among these were that I provide an original birth certificate and that I have this translated by an Immigration Dept. Approved translator. I have arranged the translation, but I do not yet have the original birth certificate because with German birth certificate, all of the birth certificates for every child born into a family as well as the marriage certificates of the parents are put into one book.

So, the current situation is that I have a certified true copy of my birth certificate, but I currently cannot get an original. I will shortly (tomorrow morning) call the German consul in Sydney to see if it is possible for a special issue of birth certificate. If not, then I am back to square one.

I have contacted the Dept. of Defence and I told them this story and they did say that they may be able to issue a replacement Certificate of Service with the correct date of birth upon it. However, I was also told to not hold my breath while this is going on. That was a while ago and nothing heard since, but I Live in hope. Assuming that I am successful in having a new Certificate of Service Issued, then most of this battle will have been won.

The current situation is that my wife is overseas and I cannot join her, I have never had a criminal charge or conviction my life and I am a Vietnam Veteran. I was German born and a naturalised Australian Citizen. I currently have a Certificate of Service showing the incorrect date of birth, but steps have been taken to rectify this. My Australian Naturalisation Certificate is cancelled by the Immigration Dept. who tell me that a new one will be issued upon them getting an original birth certificate and/or Certificate of Service

So, I wait with great hope that defence can in fact do something – we will see. If things do not start working out within a month, you will hear the altercation going on in Sydney from Perth. I will contact you again if this goes pear shaped.

Kind regards – Mick Kramer

Australians at Long Tan, 18 August 1966 (Image via vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au)

The tweaking of one's age to enlist in the Army/Defence Forces is an international time-honoured tradition that is considered a badge of honour by many. Our own military history, including two World Wars, attests to this, as do countless ANZAC Day tributes — especially in regional and rural Australia.

It is untenable that the German-born Mick Kramer, who has fought for this country, should be treated so shabbily and inhumanely, denied a passport, have his Australian citizenship revoked and possibly illegally restrained from being reunited with his wife in England.

He has provided the Government with more than reasonable evidence, proof and testimony.

Our heartless and disgraceful treatment of Vietnam Veteran Michael Kramer is repugnant in every sordid and base interpretation of the word and this type of bureaucratic toying with lives, disrespect and abuse of power, is greatly worrying.

Kevin from Queensland, you say you're here to help. Prove it.

Please restore Michael Kramer's Australianship and credentials.

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