I was wounded on 20 August 1970.

I had joined the army as a Tankie and later transferred to 161 Battery for an overseas tour in South Vietnam, 12 months in country.

Towards the end of my tour I managed to score a TOD with an Aussie Cavalry outfit and became a Commander of an APC.

We were travelling down a road when I noticed a company break cover from the jungle and move towards the road. I spotted several Maoris amongst them and figured it must be a Kiwi Company. I ordered my driver to stop the track and directed him off the road so I could talk to the Kiwis. I was inside the Commanders hatch with just my head sticking out when the driver took the APC just off the edge of the formed road. Wham! In an instant I saw great white light – the track had run over an anti-tank mine. The grunts in the back of the APC were killed instantly, the driver I think survived, protected by the blast wall and I was propelled skyward, out through the Commanders hatch, wrenching my left shoulder in the process.

After being propelled through space for a time, gravity took over and I came to a sudden and abrupt halt face first in the red dust of South Vietnam. My ears were ringing, my eyes were full of dirt and my mouth was full of choking dust. Blood was streaming down my face. I couldn't see, I couldn't hear and I couldn't move. My left shoulder had got caught up in the turret and the pain was intense.

I lay in the hot sun, alone, blind, deaf and afraid for many many hours while the grunts approached me with great care prodding every square inch of ground with their bayonets, searching or more mines while I slipped in and out of consciousness.

After an eternity I was recovered and taken to the 1st Australian Field Hospital. For me the war was over, for the moment anyway. After treatment and recuperation it was decided to send me back to New Zealand where I could get my shoulder worked on.

They put me on a flight with my head and ears swathed in bandages then over the top of all this was placed a set of US Air force issue ear defenders. I looked ridiculous and felt like a being from outer space but at least I was going home pretty much in one piece.

After my wounds healed I went back to the Nam for a second tour, this time with one of the training teams.

Reference: 

Reproduced from Mike Subritzky, The Vietnam Scrapbook (1995)

How to cite this page: 'Wounded in Vietnam - Paul Campion', URL: http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz/memory/wounded-vietnam-paul-campion, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 1-Jul-2014