Remembering Vietnam - Michael Shale

Submitted by Editorial team on

Extract from interview with Paul Diamond, 4 November 2010

Reproduced with permission of Michael Shale

How do you feel about the way we remember the Vietnam War and New Zealand's role in it, now?

I'm still, I'm very anti war to this day. I don't think we should be in Iraq. I don't think we should be in – I mean we weren't in Iraq, thank god for Helen Clark. I don't think we should be in Afghanistan. I'm very anti war because of my involvement in Vietnam. I wouldn't like my children to join the Forces altogether, but I can see a role, I can see a role for Armed Forces. I'm not, I'm not completely pacifist. But....

But is that different to how you felt as a 20-year-old going, you know going into the Army, and then going into Vietnam and doing what you had to do as being in a Rifle ...?

Well of course, when I joined the army I thought I was going for a holiday. I thought I was going on holiday to Malaya for two years. And come out and, you know, that would be it. I didn't realise that we'd end up in Vietnam.

But having got there....

Having got there, yeah.....

You had to deal with it though, didn't you, the nitty-gritty of being in infantry?

When you're 20-years-old, you're not, you're not thinking straight. And I, and I give a lot of – when you get bad behaviour in pubs from 20-year-olds, I'm very, I'm a lot more tolerant than other people might be, because I realise, you know, that you don't give due weight to, to anything much. You've got your mates and they are important to 20-year-olds, and, and perhaps your wellbeing and that, but you don't think about the repercussions of things. So, you know, I mean the fact that we ended up in Vietnam. The thought processes – you're not thinking too much of the bigger picture. You're only thinking of your friends, of your money, yeah as I say, your wellbeing. And, you're not really thinking of what the hell you're doing.


Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage

How to cite this page: ' Remembering Vietnam - Michael Shale ', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 10-Sep-2013