Of the 3500 odd New Zealand personal deployed to South Viet Nam from 1963 to 1975, their 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 about the Whiskey Company.
Altogether including the Assault Pioneers, Mortars and a few others we numbered about 190 personnel
in our company.
IMPORTANT FACTORS OF OUR TIME IN VIETNAM
A Month – November 1967
One Year - Posting
Whiskey Company were also the first rifle company to be posted on a one year posting to
Vietnam, our year was 1968. 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 through the year 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. 16,592 Americans died in 1968, the highest number of casualty rates for the whole
of the Vietnam War. Whiskey Company lost 3 during 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
" Who is the enemy?
How can you distinguish between the civilians and the non civilians?
The same people who come and work in the bases at daytime,
they just want to shoot and kill you at night time.
So how can you distinguish between the two?
The good or the bad?
All of them look the same."
United States Secretary of Defence: Robert McNamara
In 1968 US troops numbered 535,100; the South Vietnamese claimed some 820,000
fighters; Viet Cong and North Vietnamese fighters at that time numbered approximately
600,000. During that year 1968, the highest number of fighting men throughout the whole
of the Vietnam War were in action.
1968 was the year of the greatest involvement and loss of lives FOR ALL FORCES involved
in the whole of the Vietnam war.
Our Year - Agent Orange
Data available shows that in 1967, 1968 and 1969 the spraying of Agent Orange was
the heaviest three years of spraying during the whole of the Vietnam War.
It is also recorded that the heaviest spraying of Agent Orange in the Phouc Tuy province
occurred during the year 1968. The Phouc Tuy province is where the New Zealand forces
were primarily operating. During our time we often saw planes spraying through our area.
This was especially noticeable when we were on the “Horseshoe”. Other times we were so
accustomed to their presence that we often didn’t notice them in the area.
Many times this spray was right over the top of us. We had no knowledge that it would be
harmful to us, which is another reason for not registering how often this occurred.
We never knew the toxicity of the spray(s) until years later in the early 1980’s when
a group, in Defence HQ at Freyberg Building were tasked with recording the results of an
assessment coming from the Vietnam Veterans. Other veterans knew nothing until they
started coming down with various health problems and cancers. Many still could not
believe that something like this could happen to us.
It is bad enough that the veterans have had to bear the cross of exposure to toxic agents
during our time of service whilst in Vietnam. It is worst to see our children and grandchildren
afflicted with health conditions we know originated from our exposure, and to think that we
are the cause of their suffering.
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 allegeable for compensation.
These are the FOUR reasons; ONE MONTH together before going to Vietnam, then disbanded
in Vietnam at the end or our tour; The first company to serve A YEAR; The year served was
1968; the worst year of the whole of the Vietnam War; and PhucTouy Province was sprayed
with Agent Orange the heaviest during the year 1968.
These 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 too but we have other factors that make that issue even more concerning for
In October 1967 the New Zealand Government decided to deploy a second rifle company to
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 year 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.