Training the South Vietnamese - Bryan Lichtwark

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Extract from an interview with Claire Hall, 17 March 2011

Reproduced with permission of Bryan Lichtwark

Just the normal bare essentials a platoon would use in an everyday setting.

And were they keen students?

I don't know whether you've ever seen Asians, but Asians can be so dead-pan faced when you're talking to them that sometimes it's very hard to know what they're thinking. There was an occasion when I first got there [Chi Lang] and was instructing some officers and my interpreter, Sergeant Su, asked me if I could smile a little bit more because I looked a little bit too grim-faced and that the students thought that I was angry with them. And I said to Sergeant Su that I was certainly not angry with the students and that my grim face was trying to convey the seriousness of what I was teaching. In other words, if you didn't listen to me you're going to be bloody killed. However, I took on board what he said, bearing in mind the differences in cultures of people, and in future I worked on the assumption that if I smiled broadly and told them that if they didn't do this they'd blow themselves to bloody smithereens. It went down well and they would applaud the lesson.


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

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