Extract of interview with Paul Diamond, 26 April 2008
Reproduced with permission of the Carson family
Bandmaster Jim Carson recalls 'lasting memories of an exciting five days' touring South Vietnam with the 1RNZIR Band.
I think the trip to the fire support base was probably the most exciting. I mean, it’s not every day you have a trip in a Chinook.... go to the range and you fire weapons. Normally as a bandsman unless you’re on a particular deployment, as we were from time to time on the Thailand border. You don’t carry weapons, you’re not that familiar with them. Not as familiar as if you were an infantryman. So having the responsibility for weapons and having the experience of the noisy, potentially dangerous sort of Chinook flying over the jungle – twenty minutes is a long time if you’re not comfortable.
I didn’t think of being uncomfortable in the slightest myself, but it was a very interesting thing to be doing. I suppose on every occasion you want things to be better, so that if for example on that trip to the fire support base, if there had been more trips emerging from the jungle, and if the audience had been bigger, noisier and more appreciative that would have been fantastic. But of course it’s a wartime situation, you’re not looking for a noisy reception - you’re providing a service and what happened was entirely realistic.
I was very comfortable. I think myself and the bandsmen, our reaction generally, we were buoyed by the trip to Vietnam. We were delighted, it was a boost. I don’t think anybody was worried about the incipient dangers, but of course everybody knows what the possibilities are, you’ve just got to get into the aircraft to face a situation of danger.
Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage