Added: 16th Apr 2008
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Extract from an interview with Paul Diamond, 8 August 2007
Reproduced with permission of Father John Carde
I was 37, and I used to think sometimes 'What the hell am I doing out here carrying this heavy pack?' And then we had battle efficiency tests and they were ten miles with full kit at quick march and then carry somebody a hundred metres, do the obstacle course and fire, was it five, or ten rounds into a target. Well, nobody wanted to carry me because I was big and heavy and with a pack on, so a chap called Don Williams, we picked each other. He was big and heavy too, and I found carrying him a hundred yards pretty tough.
Did you have to do this?
Being a chaplain, that was part of the deal?
You didn't have to, oh no, no.
Because when people think of 'chaplain' in the army, they may think of someone just staying at base, running services...
Oh no. Well, some of them did, I never saw Hui [fellow chaplain Whakahuihui Vercoe] get out much, and I never saw Alistair McKenzie go into the field. Because Alistair had been in Vietnam with 161 Battery, so he thought he'd probably done all his time in the field. He was, he may have been the first or the second chaplain over there at 161 Battery.
Why did you do it then?
Oh well...my motto when I became a priest was 'Wherever His people gather, I would like to join in praising the name of the Lord', so wherever there were people, I thought can I, may I, be part of their lives too. I never wanted to be anything above them, or below them, or you know, or, I'd certainly be below them, but not above them. I just wanted to be part of the mix. And I was in the army, and as I put everything - it sounds awfully syrupy - as I'd put everything into the previous years of priesthood, I wanted to put everything into this new cast no matter how long it would last. And the way that you can get to know people is sweating with them, and unless you've sweated with them then you'll always be on a different level to them.
Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage