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.
We gathered around in preparation for getting on the Chinook. We were issued with weapons, issued with live ammunition and so forth, and I remember the padre of the place being there at that time and chatting away. So having been weaponed up we then charged aboard the Chinook and sat ourselves on the side in the harness provided.
Now the Chinook are the really big helicopters?
They were big helicopters so to get 20 bandsmen on there was no bother at all. And on each side of the Chinook there were machine gunners in position looking out, and there was a big hole in the floor with a spotter looking down for activity below and the bandsmen were all along the side in their harnesses. A flight of about 20 minutes.
So as you looked out the windows you could see the jungle rolling past underneath and in the distance you could see helicopters dusting jungle areas with fire, anyway when the Chinook stopped at Fire Service Base discovery we all dashed out the back, and some of the bandsmen remind me that as soon as you went out you had to form a sort of a protective group around the Chinook until everybody was out, and then the Chinook was ready to fly off. Apparently if you delay or if your pace of movement isn’t fast enough you might get third degree burns from the jets. [laughs] Who knows, it might just be a scary story.
Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage