Michael Kramer shows his now-void naturalisation certificate, his German birth certificate and a statutory declaration. Picture: TARA GOONAN Michael Kramer in South Vietnam in 1968.
MICHAEL Kramer lied about his age so he could serve his country.
Forty-six years later that decision has made it impossible to get a passport.
The German-born Culcairn businessman’s Australian naturalisation certificate has been declared void.
“It’s a catch-22 situation because I lied about my age in order to join the army just as the Vietnam War was starting to turn into a real war,” he said.
Mr Kramer said he was 20 at the time “but you had to be 21 back in those days” — he would have needed his parents’ permission to enlist under-age.
His true date of birth was March 1, 1947, but he used a pen to change the 7 on the naturalisation certficate into a 6.
“Three years ago when my wife and I both applied for passports at the Albury post office they picked up on that,” he said.
“But I didn’t think it was a big deal because it was accompanied by a statutory declaration.
“That explained the whole situation about my age and how I had to do this to join the army and go to Vietnam.”
He served in the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and later the D&E Platoon in Nui Dat.
Mr Kramer said he accepted the blame for the issue lay with his German birth certificate.
“In Germany they would put all the birth certificates of a family including the children’s into an album called a family tree book,” he said.
“That has been held by my brother in South Australia but he refused to send it down straight away.”
Mr Kramer said that was when he hit a hurdle with his passport application — he didn’t have the original and the certified copy he possessed could not be accepted.
Mr Kramer said his brother had since relented and sent him the family documents.
“If he had sent the certificate in the first place this probably would not have happened,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Kramer’s wife, Carolyn, is due back in Albury today from Britain.
Mr Kramer said she was heading back overseas again soon and he wanted to go with her.
“This is now out of hand so much I’ll probably have to go to the Immigration Department in person some time in September to get it sorted,” he said.
Mr Kramer was initially accused of falsifying an official document.
That threat lapsed, but he said he was extremely frustrated by the bureaucratic indifference to his plight.
The department has promised to provide a new naturalisation certificate once Mr Kramer provides his original birth certificate.
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