Bringing the Vietnam War back to life

MATTHEW CATTIN
Last updated 09:27 15/03/2012
war

VIETNAM UNIT: Nic Scott, left, and Robert Furci in military mode. Their re-enactment unit is at Motat's Military Weekend on Sunday.

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A group of military enthusiasts gears up in army attire every Tuesday night and trains like it was 1965 and the Vietnam war.

The 10 lads are a living history unit – recreating infantry divisions to preserve their story and to educate people about our war history.

Robert Furci, 20, of Kaukapakapa, portrays the unit commander of the 25th Infantry Division from the Vietnam war. He was born in the United States and developed an interest in the military at a young age, starting re-enactments in Tennessee aged 15.

When he's not at Massey University's Albany campus studying history, he spends his time training his unit. They learn everything foot drills, rifle drills, patrolling and how to survive in the field.

The Military Re-enactment Society of New Zealand, of which the unit is a part, has enthusiastic members nationwide.

Mr Furci says recreating every small detail shows respect to the soldiers who fought and died for their country. Everything from the uniforms and weapons to the socks and briefs are 100 percent authentic to the period of 1965-1971.

"There were guys wearing the same uniform enduring things that we're all privileged not to experience. So to us, being as accurate as we can is a sign of respect," he says.

The unit trains every week and does monthly war re-enactments at Motat and frequently demonstrates at community events.

Their dedication and authenticity has also earned them a reputation in the movie industry, including roles in upcoming films and attending events hosted by Sir Peter Jackson.

Nic Scott, 29, an event manager from Kaukapakapa, has been with the unit since last November. Mr Scott enjoys the camaraderie and gets a kick out of educating people about his passion.

"It's a bit of a big brother situation – like a little family. It's so rewarding to give the younger ones a bit of guidance."

The unit is open to anyone over 16 and no military experience is required.

"Our unit provides a fun, safe environment for anybody who wants to do something a little bit non-mainstream," Mr Scott says.

It will be at Motat on Sunday during the museum's Military Weekend from 11am to 4pm. The weekend includes the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band celebrating the airforce's 75th anniversary, interactive events, displays and military vehicle rides.

Email electricstrawberry@yahoo.com for unit information, or visit www.motat.org.nz for Military Weekend events.

–Matthew Cattin is an AUT journalism student

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