One Month not at War – November 1967
In October 1967 the New Zealand Government decided to deploy a second rifle company to South Vietnam. In the early part of
November 1967 the company was established in Malaysia from two groups of soldiers all on two year overseas postings. Some were
soldiers who had spent almost a year in Malaysia and were near the end of their first year. Others were soldiers who had just arrived
in Malaysia at the beginning of their two year posting. The company was made up from many different types of serving soldiers. Some
were drivers who became gunners and soldiers who had been in the Army less than a year became riflemen and scouts.
Whiskey Company not only had the task of familiarising itself with the normal tasks of a rifle company, with officers that were almost
strangers to most of us, but we also had the task of getting to know and live with other soldiers who were in our section, in our platoon
and in the rest of the company. All this occurred before we were posted on active service to Vietnam later on the 16th and 17th of
December 1967 the following month. In the final days of our tour in Vietnam many became infected with Malaria and a group of about
20 in number were flown to a hospital in Penang, which is in the northern part of Malaysia, to recuperate. Some of our company were
posted back to New Zealand to different units and different camps and others were discharged. Those of the company that still had a
year to serve in Terendak Camp, Malaysia were posted to different parts of the Battalion.
A couple were even posted to units outside of the NZ Battalion.
Whiskey Company was organised as a rifle company in a month, posted to Vietnam on active service then separated after our time in
Vietnam. Not including our time on active service in Vietnam, Whiskey Company spent only one month together before being
deployed to Vietnam and were disbanded basically in Vietnam at the end of the tour.
One Year – Together
Whiskey Company were also the first rifle company to be posted on a “one year” posting to Vietnam, our year was December 1967
until November 1968. If you add to this the month we had already spent in coming together as a company our total time together was
in fact 1 year.
Victor Company were posted in May 1967 on a six month posting until November 1967. They were replaced by Victor 2 who were
relieved by Victor 3 in May 1968. Victor 3 were the first of the Victor companies to do a one year posting. Victor 3 were in Vietnam
from May 1968 to May 1969. So Victor 2 and Victor 3 both did six months of 1968 along with Whiskey Company. Whiskey Company
served a “one year” deployment in South Vietnam from December 1967 through to November 1968.
The Year 1968
The major offensive during the whole of the Vietnam War began on 31 January 1968, the Tet Offensive. This offensive was a
catastrophe for the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong, who lost 37,000 fighters during that year. But it was also a serious blow for
the United States, who lost 2,500 men during the Tet offensive. Phase Two of the offensive was an assault on Saigon, complete with
rocket attacks, was launched in May 1968. Through these and other nationwide attacks the Communists kept up pressure in order to
strengthen their position in a projected series of four party peace talks scheduled to be held in Paris. The talks were to begin in
January 1969 between the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front, or Viet Cong as we knew
them. In 1967 records show that there were 485,600 US Troops in service in Vietnam as well as 785,600 South Vietnamese Troops in
The US statistics also show 11,153 US service personnel were killed in Vietnam in 1967.
In 1968 records show that there were 549,500 US Troops in service in Vietnam as well as 820,000 South Vietnamese Troops in
service. As well as these there were also a further 65,000 Korean, Thai, Australian, Philippine and New Zealand troops. In 1968 the
New Zealand troops numbered 520.
The US statistics show 16,592 US service personnel were killed and 87,388 US personnel were wounded in action during 1968. Over
5,000 more soldiers killed than the previous year as well as the highest number killed in any one year of that war.
The South Vietnamese had 27,915 killed in action and 172,512 wounded in action during the 1968 year of the war. The deadliest
week of the Vietnam War for the USA was during the Tet Offensive specifically February 11–17, 1968, during which period 543
Americans were killed in action, and 2547 were wounded. US estimate that there were approximately 420,000 North Vietnamese and
Viet Cong enemy troops serving that year. They also estimate that between 191,000 and 209,000 were killed in 1968.
Whiskey Company had 3 killed during our tour, one from each Platoon. This equates to just over 1.6%. During the same period the
US lost 16,592 which equates to just over 3%. You can read what you wish from that.
In 1969 records show that there were now 434,500 US Troops in service in Vietnam as well as 897,000 South Vietnamese Troops in
service. The US statistics also show 11,616 service personnel were killed in Vietnam in 1969. These are figures taken from readings
on the Vietnam War. They endorse what is written of the war. The year 1968 was the climax of the war where the strength of the
allied forces was greatest and their casualty rate was also greatest for the Vietnam War. Over the following years the number of Allied
Forces began to decrease and the South Vietnamese Forces grew to over a million in 1970.
Whiskey Company served in Vietnam from December 1967 until November 1968. It wasn’t a six month tour and it wasn’t
quite a twelve month tour. However when compared with every other New Zealand Rifle Company deployed in Vietnam during the
war, it would be difficult, in fact impossible to say they served during a worst phase of the whole war than Whiskey Company did.
Our Year - Agent Orange
Then to add even more to that eleven month tour you will find it interesting to research the spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam. In
particular the spraying of chemical herbicides in the Phouc Tuy Province.
"During the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1971, the United States military sprayed nearly 20,000,000 U.S. gallons
(75,700,000 L) of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, eastern Laos, and parts of Cambodia as part of the aerial defoliation
program known as Operation Ranch Hand, reaching its peak from 1967 to 1969."
"The product was tested in Vietnam in the early 1960's, and brought into ever widening use during the height of the war (1967-68),
though its use was diminished and eventually discontinued in 1971."
“A 1968 image taken from inside an Australian Iroquois helicopter in flight. A spray boom for defoliant extends from the helicopter
beneath the machine gunner, who is on the right of the image. Defoliant was loaded onto helicopters in 30-gallon tanks. Agent Orange
was named for the orange stripe on such tanks."
In 1968, our year there was one topic that almost always eventuated. It was not the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr who was assassinated in
Memphis, Tennessee and also Robert Kennedy assassinated in Los Angeles. It was not the introduction of Boeings 747, a new state of the
art passenger airliner. Nor was it the first flight by man around the moon on what we knew as Apollo 8. Neither was it the Beatles song “Hey
Jude” or a host of other events that emerged. Although these were all events of 1968 the one thing that could not be over looked was the
Vietnam War. The year 1968 is considered to be a turbulent year and is commonly associated with unrest and the Counterculture of the
1960s never the less the Vietnam War was the one topic that would always eventuate. Of the 3500 odd New Zealand personal deployed to
South Vietnam from 1963 to 1975, there were some 750 Artillery personal from 161 Battery, a number of Special Air Service (SAS) personal
and more than 1600 Infantry men of the 9 Infantry companies that made up V (Victor) Company and W (Whiskey) Company. The following is
written with the final group in mind, in particular Whiskey Company. To be more precise, the original Whiskey Company including the Assault
Pioneers, Mortars and a few others we numbered about 190 personnel.
1968 was also important in the lives of those soldiers that made up the numbers of Whiskey Company. That was the year that they spent in
active service as part of 2RAR and partway through the year with 4RAR during which time they were part of the ANZAC Battalion.
From these three readings we can deduce that the heaviest spraying of chemical herbicides in Vietnam which occurred during 1967, 1968 and
1969 is a fact. We can also deduce that spraying did occur in an area where the Australian Iroquois flew during 1968. Further research has
lead me to several maps of areas sprayed and when the spraying occurred.
Through these maps and further research I can confirm that the heaviest spraying from US aircraft within the Phouc Tuy area took place in
April, May and June 1968 and also September and October 1968. I must add here that there is no evidence of spraying in the Phouc Tuy
Province at any other time by United States Military Aircraft. Of course the maps I have used show what the US aircraft were doing and do not
include the Australian helicopters or spraying units used on the ground. All Kiwi veterans of the Vietnam War will remember at some time
during their service being involved in some way with the use of spray units to kill weed growth around Nui Dat base camp. It has also been
confirmed that the chemical herbicide used during that time came from 30 gallon tanks marked with an Orange band around the centre of the
Victor 2 was in Vietnam during the months of April and the early part of May in 1968. Then during the latter part of May, June and also the
months of September and October 1968 Victor 3 were in country having relieved V2 in May 1968. That means of course that Victor 2
Company, Victor 3 Company and Whiskey Company are the three companies that were on the ground in Nui Dat when the spraying of
chemical herbicide by US aircraft took place in the Phouc Tuy Province of Vietnam.
It may well be that infantry soldiers not from any of the mentioned companies can relate to such incidents however during
my research there is no evidence that rectifies this when researching US information. I am also aware of a map that was
presented and used to verify spraying in the area of Phouc Tuy. What I am unaware of is when the spraying as indicated
on that map is said to have taken place and who, US, Australian or New Zealand servicemen, were the personnel doing the
spraying. I do know that the spraying of chemical defoliant using back packs, land rover units and helicopters was experienced
whilst in Nui Dat base camp. I am also sure that this happened during the time of all infantrymen who spent time in Nui Dat.
However I am unable to substantiate any of this in writing. I certainly do not at any time wish to take away from anyone their
right to fight for what they are entitled to. I simply write these things to highlight statements made on behalf of Whiskey Company.
Many of the Vietnam Veterans have suffered and died through severe cancers and other ailments, but because these are not
part of the list claimed by the medical profession and Government, these families were not allege able for compensation.
These four factors place Whiskey Company right in front of one of the biggest issues still being fought even today.
The issue of Agent Orange and the issues surrounding Agent Orange are hugely important. But we have other factors that make
our tour of duty in South Vietnam an issue even more concerning for Whiskey Company.