Extract from interview with Claire Hall, 8 October 2008
Reproduced with permission of Brian Wilson
Victor Company rifleman Brian Wilson recalls New Zealand's first KIA, Morrie Manton. Wilson was travelling in the section behind Manton, some 30 metres away in thick bush, on the day his mate was killed in a mine explosion on the Long Green, a renowned Viet Cong stronghold in Phuoc Tuy province. The blast’s force knocked him off his feet.
So I was about 30 yards in thick bush and the blast still knocked me on my back. The shrapnel didn’t reach me but it knocked hell out of everything else. Only one other guy was wounded, the lead scout who was with Morrie. But they were horrible things. So you were there when Morrie was killed? Yeah I was on that patrol. When we got him out we couldn’t pick him all up he was blown to bits from his waist down. One of the guys gave him morphine. We all carried morphine on our dog tags. He gave Morrie a couple of injections and that sort of stopped the pain. But he lay awake for a while, calling for his mother and swearing at us.
When the chopper came to pick him up we couldn’t get it in. It was quite thick bush and we had to chop down some trees, enough to get a stretcher down. That took a while. He actually died some time between the stretcher coming down and going up. The medics told us later that he was dead when he got to the chopper. So he actually bled to death, but we put as many bits as we could find in the stretcher. It rained like hell all that day, and the next day. The choppers came to pick us up and take us back to the camp. I still remember sitting in the chopper and thinking how bloody pleased I was that it wasn’t me.
Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage