13 November 2019
About 130 veterans from the New Zealand Army’s Victor 2 Company who served in Vietnam and their families attended a reunion at Burnham Military Camp near Christchurch at the weekend.
They came from all over New Zealand, with three veterans and one veteran’s widow coming from Australia and one veteran’s daughter from Hawaii. Many of the veterans had not been at the Burnham camp in more than 50 years.
Included in the group were Second in Command Captain Mike Dudman and Platoon Commander Lieutenant Tony Howell. Fellow veteran and Ngāpuhi kaumatua Cecil Poa also made the trip from Whangarei with 15 of his whānau members.
Another who attended was Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association national vice-president Bob Hill, who now lives in Masterton. Mr Hill was a Section Commander in 4 Platoon in Vietnam and six members of his 10-man section were present at the reunion.
“It was just so great to have everyone back together again,” Mr Hill said. “It was wonderful to catch up with old comrades we hadn’t seen in a long time and share memories.
“And to hold the reunion at Burnham was so special, because many of us hadn’t been there for so long.”
The reunion started on Friday night with a gathering and dinner in the Burnham camp’s Sergeants’ Mess. Saturday started with a breakfast and powhiri and included a visit to the graves nearby of Victor 2 Company soldiers Tua Hunter and Greg Hill. It concluded with a happy hour and formal dinner in the Sergeants’ Mess. On Sunday the veterans attended a breakfast and church service, followed by a visit to the museum and lunch.
At the reunion Lieutenant Howell launched his book Jungle Green Shadows, a historical record of Victor 2 Company’s involvement in the war.
Victor 2 Company was formed from the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, which was part of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade based in Terendak Garrison, Malaya.
The Company arrived in Vietnam on 12 November, 1967, and left on 13 May, 1968. It joined with the 2nd Royal Australian Regiment to form the ANZAC Battalion.
During its time in Vietnam the Company was involved in the massive Tet Offensive, a coordinated series of North Vietnamese attacks on more than 100 cities and outposts in South Vietnam.