Monday, December 30, 2013

Canadians Serve


Although the government in Ottawa was not technically supporting the US and its allies in the Vietnam war, many Canadian men either enlisted in the US Army and Marines Corps or "allowed" themselves to be drafted into service.

Like everything else about the Vietnam war, numbers and stories vary. Some wildly. Protests were just as furious in Canada as they were in other parts of the world. The difference was many Americans resisting the draft went to Canada where they were, if not welcomed, accommodated. Many still live there today. When then President Gerald Ford announced a "conditional amnesty" shortly after taking office, the offer was looked upon coolly. Ford issued a proclamation on September 16, 1974 a week after giving Richard Nixon a full pardon. Both of these actions were looked upon with suspicion.

Canada was officially a "non-belligerent" in the Vietnam war but did send foreign aid to South Vietnam and did not interfere with its citizens joining American armed forces. There had been a long history of US soldiers serving with Canadians in both World Wars and Korea. US soldiers served with Canada in the World Wars before the US officially declared.

Canadian businesses remained arm's length when they shipped billions of dollars of goods for the American war machine to the US:

 "500 firms sold $2.5 billion of war materials (ammunition, napalm, aircraft engines and explosives) to the Pentagon. Another $10 billion in food, beverages, berets and boots for the troops was exported to the U.S., as well as nickel, copper, lead, brass and oil for shell casings, wiring, plate armour and military transport. In Canada unemployment fell to record low levels of 3.9%"[4]

In addition, other military supplies and raw materials useful in their manufacture including napalm, Agent Orange and ammunition. As long as the goods were not going directly to Vietnam, they violated no international treaties.

Canadians fought alongside American, Australian, New Zealand, South Korean and other allies in the war against the North Vietnamese. Their return home was no less uncomfortable than their counterparts as anti-war demonstrations were very heated in their homeland.

Since these soldiers and marines were the "property" of the American military, they were not provided with any aid- health or otherwise by their own government. Many stayed in the US while others blended back into Canadian society as best they could.

Eventually groups of veterans joined together and formed support groups. There are several Canadian Vietnam Veteran's memorials across Canada.

Letter Home

It has been very difficult to nail down just how many Canadians served in Vietnam, how many were killed and wounded, how many missing in action and, finally, how many might have been captured and imprisoned by the North. The fact is, all Canadians were serving with US military forces and wearing American uniforms. Some were citizens of Canada and others had become citizens of the US. Regardless, we bow our heads in solemn memory of those boys who died, those who were wounded and those who have survived to suffer along with their brethren. This war did not only tear the American generation of that time in two- it broke hearts across the globe.

To Those Canadians Who Served
Welcome Home
To Those Who Perished
Rest in Peace

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Australia and New Zealand in the Vietnam War: In Conclusion


By the war's end, over 60,000 Australians had served. 521 had died and 3,000 wounded. From the initial deployment of Australians in 1962 until the gradual withdrawal of forces in 1969, the nation's military had peaked to total over 7,000 active. Typically, an RAR (Royal Australian Regiment)  would muster home to be replaced by the next regiment. In 1970 when 8RAR headed home, they were not replaced. By the third week of January 1973 allied forces and North Vietnam had signed a ceasefire. In March the last US military pulled out followed by the rest in June of the same year. 

The four delegations sit at the table during the first signing ceremony of the agreement to end the Vietnam War at the Hotel Majestic in Paris, January 27, 1973. Clockwise from foreground-delegates of the US, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, North Vietnam and South Vietnam. (AP Photo #)

Once the allied forces had pulled out of South Vietnam a ferocious attack by North Vietnam on the South began. By 1974 it was evident that without the support of their former allies, the south would fall to the Viet Cong.

South Vietnamese soldier rests his eyes at a lonely outpost northeast of Kontum, 270 miles north of Saigon, March 25, 1974. The hill overlooks a vital North Vietnamese supply road and is located near the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in South Vietnam since the ceasefire. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)#

The war in Vietnam was, in itself, a tragedy difficult to grasp in its enormity. There are many sub-plots to this war. The sadness and loss of leaving the South Vietnamese to defend themselves was a tragedy. Allied forces had been aware for many, many years that 
ARVN troops (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) were not capable or not motivated to fight against the Viet Cong. Whatever the reasons, much blood and treasure was shed to train them. The fact that allied forces had spent almost two decades decimating the south by destroying villages, infrastructure, farmlands, waters, etc. made it that much easier for the North to invade and succeed at their overcoming the South.  In  1975 North Vietnamese troops marched triumphantly into Saigon while refugees piled into US helicopters and troop ships in an effort to evade capture. It was chaos. On April 30, 1975, the North Vietnamese Army takes control of Saigon. And so, ends the war in Vietnam.

Although New Zealand's support was minimal militarily and as an adjunct to Australian forces, their medical teams were instrumental in health care for decades; even after the war. The Kiwis sent 3,500 of their citizens to serve in Vietnam from June 1964 . Of those, 37 died including a nurse serving with a surgical team and a member of their Red Cross team. Some sources report 187 New Zealanders wounded. 

In Remembrance of all those ANZACS
who served
in the War in Vietnam-
to those who survive we say 
Welcome Home
to those who perished
Rest in Peace
To all to all to all...
Please know you have not been forgotten.
We love our Aussie and Kiwi mates forever.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Season's Greetings to All- Welcome Home-Peace on Earth

Vietnam: My War Too

Sends Sincerest Holiday Greetings to One and All

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

To All the Men and Women Who Served
Welcome Home

In Memory of all Who Died

Our Generation Carries a Huge Burden
Let's strive to heal some broken hearts

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force Part V


Royal Australian Navy (RAN)  

The first naval contingent active in Vietnam was Clearance Diving Team 3 which was deployed in February 1967. The long coast of Vietnam was a perfect area for the placement of mines and this 6-man team's first mission was in connection with the Inshore Undersea Warfare Group 1 stationed at Cam Ranh Bay. The team operated in Vung Tau where it was assigned to assist with harbor defense, EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), harbor patrols and port command during Operation Stabledoor (1967-1970). Often CDT3 also helped with clearing debris and recovering enemy ammunition in the rivers.
PBR ( Patrol Boat River) Australian and South
Vietnam naval personnel
Photo Credit: Tony Ey

The largest RAN contribution to the Vietnam War was the deployment of Australian Adams Class guided missile destroyers to Vietnam. There were three ships in this group, HMAS Brisbane, HMAS Perth,  HMAS Vendetta, and HMS Hobart. All but Brisbane- which did 2 tours- were active in 3 tours. This destroyer group was attached to the US 7th Fleet at Subic Bay, Philippines in 1967 and rotated until 1971.

Royal Australian Navy
Destroyer Group
(l-r), Brisbane, Hobart, Perth.

The aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney which had been converted to a troop/supply ship was nicknamed  the "Vung Tau Ferry".

There were also helicopters and pilots sent by the RAN 
in support of the US 135th Aviation Company at Vung Tau and RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANFHV) was used for troop insertion and armed support. Finally, the RAN supplied pilots as part of the No. 9 Squadron RAAF at Nui Dat.

2,800 RAN personnel served during the war in Vietnam. A combined total of 8 officers and sailors lost their lives while 50 were reported injured. We remember them and all who served.

Vietnam Veterans of Australia/RAN (link)


The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) had been operating in Vietnam mainly as supply and assistance to 1RAR via the elements of No. 35 Squadron (Transport) since 1964. Flying the fixed wing Caribou Aircraft (link)

No. 9 Squadron (Helicopters) were deployed for support, troop movement and medevac operations. 

It was, in April 1967, when 8 of ten Canberra Bombers with No. 2 Squadron arrived in Vietnam. 300 RAAF personnel were under the command of USAF 35th Tactical Fighter Wing.

Close Up Canberra Bomber A84-238 RAAF

The full complement of No. 2 Squadron RAAF at Phan Rang
just before returning to Oz on 4 June 1971

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 RAAF personnel were deployed at the height of Australian involvement in the Vietnam War- all from three squadrons. The Canberra Bomber squadron was the first to head home in March 1971 followed by the rest in August. Six RAAF personnel were killed in action, 8 died non-combat related deaths while 30 were wounded in action and 30 suffered non-combat injuries.

A84-238 Canberra Bomber/RAAF

Welcome Home members of RAAF and RAN Vietnam
Rest in Peace to all who fell.
We remember.


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Kiwis Reluctant for Full Engagement Part III 1/2


Between 1964 and 1972, roughly 3,500 military personnel had been committed to the American War in Vietnam by the New Zealand leadership.  Once their strongest, and geographically closest ally, Australia had fully engaged, Wellfleet (the capitol of NZ) came under mounting pressure to contribute manpower and heavy weapons.

The first New Zealand combat unit consisted of a four gun artillery battery which shipped out to Vietnam on May 24, 1965. This along with 120 men. However, prior to that, in 1962 a civilian surgical team was sent by New Zealand. This team would operate at Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh province during the entire presence of that nation's involvement.  Eventually, in 1964 a non-combat group of Army engineers was sent. Their mission was in the way of reconstruction projects of roads and bridge-building. Once their work was completed they mustered out, a year later.

There was no stomach in the nation for a full and robust involvement in the American War in Vietnam by the government or by the public. 

"In our national interest? The potential adverse effect on the ANZUS* alliance of not supporting the United States (and Australia) in Vietnam was of paramount importance, but the decision to participate was in in with New Zealand's own national interests in countering Communism in South-east Asia and of sustaining a strategy of forward defence. A failure to make a token contribution to the Allied effort in Vietnam would have brought into question the basic assumption underlying New Zealand's post-war national security policies."a
The escalation of the war and continued pressure on New Zealand yielded further invovlement when -although minimal in relation to its allies-  Kiwis would finally send  two companies to Vietnam. The first company to be deployed was V Company which was deployed from West Malaysia in April 1967. This infantry battalion would later be followed by W Company in December of the same year.  Initially these companies would fall under the command of 2RAR but eventually would be integrated to form 2RAR/NZ(ANZAC) Battalion. Some NZ personnel would take positions of command. Each subsequent group, when relieved by the next, would take on the same character and protocol with New Zealand fully integrated into Australian battalions until both countries pulled out in 1972.

Banners representing W and V Companies of New Zealand and their eventual integration into the Aussie Battalions.

Soldiers from New Zealand fought with extraordinary courage and valor alongside their Aussie mates. 37 would be killed and 187 wounded. We remember them all with respect and sadness for their losses.

Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment

ATTRIBUTIONS: a- "The impact of ANZUS - NZ and the Vietnam War", URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-December-2012

*ANZUS: This is the Australia, New Zealand, US treaty which was signed in September 1951 joining the three nations together in their mutual agreement of combined forces against any hostile actions occurring in the Pacific Ocean area and, nowadays, to any attacks.

-next up...medical support from australia, new zealand, spain, and the philippines.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

ANZAC Doctors, Nurses, Medics Part IV


The first medical support group set up in Vietnam that was not American is believed to have been a New Zealand surgical team that arrived in 1963. Arriving two years prior to the
deployment of Kiwi combat troops, the six-person team set up in Qui Nhon, South Vietnam. These medical personnel treated civilian war and ordinary patients from the central area of Binh Dinh province. Meanwhile they 
'trained Vietnamese medics and nurses in all aspects of modern hospital medicine, including maternity, paediatrics and public health promotion."a

New Zealand Surgical Team 1962
Binh Dinh Province, South Vietnama

Memories of a Kiwi Medic with W3 Coy (6&2RAR ANZAC Bn) 

Royal New Zealand
Nursing Corps badge

Royal New Zealand
Nursing Corps shoulder patch

Memories of a Kiwi nurse,
Karen Pilcher (link)

New Zealand had a long and close relationship with South Vietnam with the training of nurses and doctors,  along with the care of civilians in various clinics and hospitals particularly in Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh province. 
"By 1966, the team had grown to 14: three surgeons, a physician, an anesthetist, an administrator, a laboratory technician, six nurses and a maintenance officer. It continued until March 1975 when it evacuated to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) a few days before Qui Nhon fell to North Vietnamese forces. The last team member, Dr. Jack Enwright, left South Vietnam in late April 1975."b

It's almost impossible to imagine that any other group could be overlooked after their selfless contributions to the care and well-being of Australian military men wounded in Vietnam, the instruction and education of Vietnamese doctors, nurses, and medics and the healthcare given to the Vietnamese population in general. 

43 RAANC (Royal Australian Army Nurse Corps) nurses served in Vietnam between 1966 and
1972.  Military nurses  were ordered to Vietnam with no special training (in the types of catastrophic wounds they would be treating), they were not warned about the primitive and life-threatening conditions under which they would be working-they were poorly prepared in general. But they did not shrink from their charge and performed beyond their abilities. Upon returning home, they were not debriefed, but were cautioned against discussing their time in Vietnam and told to "get on with their lives". RAANC nurses had cared for Australians at war and served admirably since WW1.

210 Australian civilian nurses volunteered and served between 1964 and 1972. Fifty years after their service, these women have been denied any medical or health care by the military they served in a civilian capacity. All were entitled to a "worker's compensation" stipend, but that benefit ended at 67 years of age and many have exceeded that. They were expected to simply quietly fade into the mists.

Please listen to and read their stories. We have provided some links so readers may receive the information in the nurses' own words.

Royal Australian Army Nurses
with Vietnamese baby
Hoa Long, Vietnam 1967
[AWM negative GIL/67/483/VN]

Australian Nurses Remember (link)         

Trailer to Film About Australian Nurses
in Vietnam

We are proud to honor and recognize all of those who sacrificed their safety and well-being out of a sense of duty to their fellow man under unimagineable conditions.

Lest they be forgotten.

Thank you nurses of the
Royal New Zealand Army Nurses Corps

Thank you nurses of the
Royal Australian Army Nurse Corps and
Australian Nurse Volunteers

b (NZ Medics Start Work in South Vietnam)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Australia and New Zealand In For The Long Haul Part III The Battle of Xa Long Tan

By Summer 1966 Australian and New Zealand forces increased military personnel to include naval and air forces. The communications between the American command and the Australians were poor and, essentially, Westmoreland's instructions to the Australian commander, Jackson amounted to a flimsy "suggestion" that the Aussie forces, along with their New Zealand comrades, take over the full responsibility for protecting Phuoc Tuy province. 

In August 1966,  D Company of 6RAR first encountered enemy forces in the village of Xa Long Tan-skirmishes took place from the 16th day until the 18th when Australian forces backed by New Zealand artillery saw Diggers suffer the worst losses of the war. Please have a look at the attached video:

Dedication of Memorial at Long Tan

16 - 18 August 1966

We Remember
and to those survivors
Welcome Home

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Australia and New Zealand In For the Long Haul Part II


By June 1966 two infantry battalions were set to serve under 1ATF (First Australian Task Force)- they were 5/6RAR (5th and 6th Royal Australian Regiment). The area under their command would be in Phuoc Tuy Province, a wealthy coastal area with an historically active agricultural and coastal economy and, in spite of its relationship with the Diem heirarchy and the Catholic Church, a strong base for Viet Cong activities. The province was situated within the III Corps Tactical Zone. Due to all of these factors, the area was considered to be a good match for the skills and abilities of Aussie forces. The landscape was not much different from what these troops had encountered in Borneo and Malaysia. There was excellent air and sea access and a secured evacuation route.The port of Vung Tau was a critical supply staging area on Route 15 on the way to Saigon and Bien Hoa. Overall this province was critical to the well-being of the Republic of South Vietnam. Everyone wanted a piece of it.
Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam, November 1966
6RAR troops following APC during "Operation Ingham"-
a "search and destroy" mission".
AWM PO 1404.028

The exact locale for the Task Force would be Nui Dat situated near Route 2 heading north through the center of the province. This positioning put something of a choke hold on the enemy operating in that area. Included in the 4,500 strong Task Force would be artillery- some from New Zealand. Link   All was commanded by General O.D. Jackson whose center was Vung Tau. Active here was the 176 Air Dispatch Co, 2 Field Ambulance, 33 Dental Unit, 2 Composite Ordnance Depot and the 101 Field Workshop of Australian and Electrical Engineers. Finally, there would be No. 9 Helicopter Squadron Link and since 1964 the No. 35 Transport Squadron RAAF had been stationed in Vung Tau.
No 9 RAAF Badge

 New Zealand Artillery Badge
Australia and New Zealand
were now involved in the war
and would see thousands of their citizens fight and die in the jungles of Vietnam.

We welcome home all of those who served. As we continue this wee remembrance to young men and women who risked their lives, often not knowing exactly why, we hope that those of you who care to share your photos, memories or what-have-you will do so. You are welcome to post comments and remarks Anonymously if you wish, either on our Facebook page or here in the comments section. We certainly do not wish to put undue pressure on anyone to feel free to speak out and up, but we always request consideration for your fellows. Comments are monitored prior to publishing by adminstrators. Remember: Think twice and post once! Cheers. There's more to come. We will plow through the various years and as many actions as we can; meanwhile, we will also be spotlighting the medical corps- nurses and doctors- who cared for the wounded.

Attributions: Many thanks to the Australian War Memorial website for photographs.