Warrant Officer Wayne McAsey next to the 173rd Airborne Memorial which shows the names of New Zealanders and Australians who were killed while serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War.
11 June 2010
Two New Zealanders who were attached the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War have been honoured on a memorial dedicated at Fort Benning, Georgia, in the United States.
The memorial, to all who served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, is believed to be the only memorial on American soil to list Australian and New Zealanders alongside Americans.
Among the 1750 American names are the names of 30 Australian and two New Zealand members of the First Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Group (1 RAR Group) and 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA), who were killed while serving in South Vietnam and were attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, US Army during 1965-66.
Sergeant Alistair Don and Bombardier Robert ‘Jock’ White were the first two New Zealanders killed in the Vietnam War. The pair died when their vehicle was destroyed by a command detonated mine near the Viet Cong-held village of Ben Cat on 14 September 1965. SGT Don, from Dunedin, was 27 and BDR White, from Kurow in North Otago, was 28.
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Boggs, present Commanding Officer of 16th Field Regiment, said, “No higher honour could be granted to those who died while serving with this elite US unit than to be recognised in this manner.”
“The 173rd Airborne Brigade has a long and distinguished history, one which we are proud to share. It is this shared military history, in Vietnam and beyond, that forms the basis of a relationship of respect, trust and friendship.
“The commitment that our two nations maintain in places such as Afghanistan is reflective of our shared values and is a pillar of our ongoing relationship,” LT COL Boggs said.
New Zealand Defence Force Land Component Commander Brigadier Dave Gawn, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Shaw, Major Bob Gillies, and Warrant Officer Wayne McAsey were among the small delegation of New Zealanders invited by the 173rd Airborne Brigade National Memorial Foundation to attend the dedication ceremony.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade Memorial is located at a prime site on the ‘Walk of Honor’ at the new National Infantry Museum, immediately adjacent to Fort Benning, Georgia.
The dedication of the Memorial was followed by a reunion to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of the only ANZUS combat unit to serve in Vietnam during the War.
For further information please contact Ally Clelland, Defence Communications Group 04 496 0273 or 021 569 130.