Fa­ther and son march to­gether

Hamilton News - - Front Page - Tom Row­land

The An­zac day march held spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for coun­cil­lor and re­turned ser­vice­man James Cas­son, as he marched with his el­dest son Jon Cas­son at the civic pa­rade on Wed­nes­day.

Mr Cas­son has served 26 years with the New Zealand Po­lice, in­clud­ing four years as the of­fi­cer in charge of the Hamil­ton North Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Cen­tre.

His son, Jon, is a serv­ing New Zealand sol­dier, a gun­ner in 163 Bat­tery.

Mr Cas­son is classed as a re­turned ser­vice­man for his ser­vices with the United Na­tions over­seas as a close pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer, which started in 2005 in the Solomon Is­lands protecting Win­ston Peters, who was Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs at the time.

He called the civic march a spe­cial oc­ca­sion as he was able to do some­thing with his son.

“It was a good time to do some­thing to­gether,” Mr Cas­son said.

“I am so proud of him as he fought long and hard to get into the army. He had a cou­ple of in­juries to his leg that he had to get fixed up but he per­se­vered.”

He said that while he is al­ways con­cerned for his son’s safety, he was not go­ing to wrap him up in cot­ton wool.

“It is his choice to serve. My mum and dad had con­cerns for me when I was de­ployed over­seas, but I would never stop my son from do­ing what he wants to do.”

“He (Jon) had watched me serve as a po­lice of­fi­cer and he wanted to do the same sort of thing.” Mr Cas­son’s pro­tec­tion of­fice role took him to var­i­ous diplo­mats posts around the world to peace­keep­ing roles in a range of lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Pa­pua New Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Is­lands and East Ti­mor.

He is also a trained diplo­matic pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer and has pro­tected sev­eral New Zealand Prime Min­is­ters and the likes of the Sul­tan of Brunei, Rod Ste­wart, Rachel Hunter and Nel­son Man­dela.

In 2008 when he was 42, he was on duty in East Ti­mor dur­ing the at­tempted assassination on then pres­i­dent of East Ti­mor Jose Ramos-horta.

“I did close pro­tec­tion over there with var­i­ous diplo­mats in­clud­ing Ramos-horta. I was there dur­ing the assassination at­tempt of him in Fe­bru­ary 2008.”

“It’s quite a vivid mem­ory be­cause of the high ten­sion there at the time.”

As a pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer for lo­cal New Zealand politi­cians, Cas­son said one of the big­gest chal­lenges is stay­ing alert at all times.

“You are armed, and you need to re­main alert for these long pe­riod of times.”

“In New Zealand it can be bore­dom, but when you get into these sit­u­a­tions like in East Ti­mor where they have had failed as­sas­si­na­tions, it is very dif­fer­ent.”

“It is a mat­ter of chang­ing your rou­tine for the area you are in and mak­ing sure your diplo­mats are safe from the rebels there.”

Mr Cas­son said that in diplo­mat train­ing you are trained to take the bul­let for the diplo­mat and you try your best to pro­tect them.

“You have taken an oath to pro­tect life and prop­erty and you have to take that se­ri­ously.”

He has taken the lessons of his life in the po­lice force over into the coun­cil cham­ber.

“It is al­ways just about be­ing alert of what is go­ing on in the com­mu­nity. Af­ter see­ing that side of life it gives you a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.”

Photo / Face­book

Hamil­ton coun­cil­lor James Cas­son, left, wear­ing his United Na­tion beret along­side his son, Jon Cas­son, who serves in the New Zealand Army.

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