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Vietnam Veterans Day – Vietnamese Conflict – 50th anniversary

August 18, 2015

July 2015 commemorated 50 years since New Zealand officially became involved in a combat capacity in the Vietnamese Conflict (1961-1975) when 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA), arrived in Vietnam, based at Bien Hoa air base as part of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade.  Other units had previously been deployed in a non-combat role (see timeline).

‘Timeline – NZ’s Vietnam War 1963-75’, URL: http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz/resources/timeline, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 5-Sep-2014

Today, Vietnam Veteran’s Day, a service was held in Wellington to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan (18 August).

In the seven years 1963 to 1975, almost 3,400 served from Army, Navy, and Air Force. Thirty-seven were killed and 187 wounded. Around 200 non-combatant aid workers and medics complemented the khaki contingent, with a civilian surgical team first to arrive in 1963 – and last out of South Vietnam in 1975. Two civilians died. (Read more)

grey ghostsMany people objected to the Vietnam War, for various reasons.  Nevertheless, where the military were deployed is not the fault of those brave souls who served their country – they were doing their sworn duty and served admirably, especially considering the terrible toll the war took plus the reactions they were often subjected to on their return home.  In my opinion, the reasons for the war, and the result of the war,  does not diminish the debt of respect and gratitude we owe those who served.

In 2006, the Crown signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Vietnam veterans and their families. The key provision of the settlement package was a formal Crown apology to New Zealand Vietnam veterans for successive governments’ failure to address their concerns.   Read apology

Our own council officer Paddy Driver had this to say:

“I served as a rifleman with V3 Company, 1st Australian Task Force in South Vietnam, from May 1968 through to May 1969.  I believe Mike served with W1 Company which was there at the same time as us.  Yes I was blown away when he turned up at the local ANZAC parade this year as we are now becoming a dying breed. Would you believe it was 50 years ago in June that the first Kiwi’s went to South Vietnam.  The 1st Australian Task Force was also only the second ANZAC formed since WW1. There are many stories however I suspect they would not be fit for the library blog.”

If you also served and would like to reconnect with old mates, you may find Vietnam War Veterans at the Vietnamwar.govt.nz site here

– Natalie

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