Bruce Picken was born in Geelong, Victoria, in 1947 and educated at the Geelong College. He commenced a five year electrical apprenticeship which was completed in April 1970. Two days later, he was on a bus heading for Puckapunyal army camp – 2nd Recruit Training Battalion (2RTB) to commence his ten weeks of basic training. This was followed by ten weeks of Infantry Corps training at Singleton, NSW – 3rd Training Battalion (3TB).
In September 1970, Bruce was posted to the 4th Battalion RAR stationed at Lavarack Barracks, Queensland. On 12 May 1971 the 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion left for Vietnam on its shortened tour of duty. On joining 4RAR, Bruce was posted to the Assault Pioneer Platoon. The Pioneers were the CO’s combat engineers specialising in light engineering and demolition and mine warfare tasks. Their primary role was to assist in the establishment and support of FSB areas. The Assault Pioneer Platoon also conducted TAOR patrols around FSB areas (including the Horseshoe and Nui Dat), as well as ambush patrols and Ready Reaction tasks.
Bruce left Vietnam in November 1971 and was discharged from the Army in December 1971, having completed his National Service commitment.
Bruce lives in Colac, Victoria, with his wife Lexie.