42294 Pte Petersen BJ
                     Bryan James PETERSEN
                     18 March 1947 – 14 September 1968
                     Killed in Action
                     Burried in the Eketahuna Cemetary







During Operation HAWKESBURY in Long Khan Province on 14 September 1968.

As the result of intelligence indicating a likely consignment of rockets being moved from east to west,
W Company was unexpectedly uplifted by helicopter and moved north into the Don Dien de Courtenay
rubber plantation early on the 14th.  Soon after dispersing from the Landing Zone a platoon had a
clash with an unknown sized group of enemy deployed along a stream bed.  Pte BJ Petersen of the
platoon was killed by a sniper  in a concealed hole in the ground during a search of the area. Later
that day there was another clash with two enemy and another with three the following day.

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Bryan was the eldest of 4 children, born in Eketahuna to Jim & Vera (nee Churchill from Kakahi). His
schooling was at Eketahuna Primary, then when Tararua College opened in Pahiatua, was one of the
founding students at the new college. After leaving school he completed a butchers apprenticeship
with the local butcher in Eketahuna. Then at the age of 18 he was called up for national service, he
happily went off to Waiouru to do his bit for his country, as his father had done in the Second World
War and his great uncles in the First World War. (Obviously joined the regular force back then) I just
recently re-read all of the letters my mother kept. These were letters Bryan had written to my mother
& father, describing his adventures, starting with his time on his basic in Waiouru, then at Burnham &
on to his Vietnam experiences. I can state very clearly Bryan loved the army, he had found his career.
After the 68 stint in Vietnam he had every intention of
re-enlisting and if he could, probably would have gone over there again. My memory of my big brother
are those of a very caring and thoughtful person, who looked out for his little sister (me), who always
thought of others before himself, who was very well liked in the community of both Eketahuna and
Nireaha, which is where we as a family were living while Bryan was in Vietnam. Before he left for
Vietnam there was a big dance at the local hall in Nireaha, the whole community came to wish him
luck and a safe return. As he was due to return home in the November of 68, plans were already
underway for another big dance, again for everyone in the area, to celebrate his safe return. When
we were awaken in the dead of the night in the September of 1968, by the local constable and the
Chairman of the local RSA to tell my parents the contents of a telegram which had arrived......that
was the day my mother’s world changed forever. To bring my brother home, the family had to fund
the cost, as the government at the time (Holyoake administration) refused. The community of both
Eketahuna and Nireaha came to our assistance by way of donating their own hard earned money to
my father. Once the money was paid, my brother was brought home and buried in the Eketahuna
RSA section. Bryan was survived by two younger brothers, one served in the Territorials, the other in
the Navy, a younger sister, who also served in the army and his mother & father. All of these people
except myself have now passed on with three also resting in the Eketahuna RSA section along with
Bryan.

The man may have gone, but he is never forgotten.


                                                 ( Written by Linda Haddon, sister of Pte BJ Petersen)