The Vietnam List: A complete roll of those New Zealanders who served in the Republic of Vietnam 1963–1975
This is a revised version of the original gestetner copy of the "Flinkenberg List" compiled by Captain Conrad Flinkenberg, RNZA. Edited by Jack and Sandy Hayes
When we decided to take on this project in 1998, it was at the urging of our children who wanted to have something to show that their father had served in Vietnam. They told us "lots of other children and grandchildren will want this too" and their encouragement has kept us at it despite the time challenges and hard work in assembling and verifying this information. Thanks, Michelle and David, we had no idea it would take twelve years to complete!
We would like to record with thanks the great support of the late Alan Nixey, Con Flinkenberg, Major Terry Brown, Anthony Staunton, Bill Rawiri, Howard Chamberlain, Pam Miley-Terry, Liz Cooper, Colonel (now Brigadier) Sean Trengrove, and Brigadier (Rtd) Terry Nolan (Australian Army). We also recognise the contribution made by the various executive members of the Ex-Vietnam Services Association (EVSA), and the Vietnam veterans and their families who willingly gave their time and records. A special thanks also for Air Vice Marshall (Rtd) Robin Klitscher in his role as National President of Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RNZRSA) in completing this project. Thank you all for your patient support.
The outstanding support by all members of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, New Zealand Defence Force, the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association and Veterans Affairs New Zealand has also been crucial in getting this project completed in its current format.
Jack and Sandy Hayes
This work is the result of hours of work by a large number of volunteers who were all motivated by their desire to support their mates who served before, with or after them in a tough military environment. This bond with their Vietnam mates was made an even stronger when they received a generally hostile reception from the public, friends, work mates, and (in far too many cases), their extended family on their return home.
Vietnam was not a popular war in the eyes of the media at the time and the graphic television coverage by CNN did not help the perception of the viewers in New Zealand. It generally bore little resemblance to the operations completed by the professional soldiers who served in the best traditions of the Kiwi soldier. The New Zealanders who served in Vietnam were not conscripts – they all volunteered.
Apart from the Long Tan battle, there were few pitched battles between Battalions as portrayed by the Hollywood movie industry. As it is now fashionable to be a "Vietnam veteran", there has come with that a number of false claims of service by imposters and posers who wear medals they are not entitled to – this is simply part of the tableau of war and will not change.
This work is a memorial to those men who died on active service for New Zealand in the jungles of South Vietnam, and the many veterans have died prematurely from illnesses related to their service in Vietnam.
We acknowledge with heartfelt thanks, the bold speech by then Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae, ONZM at the Tribute 08 gathering in June 2008, where he formally apologised to the Vietnam veterans for the way that their Defence Force failed to meet their needs after completion of their tour(s) of duty. A full copy of this speech is available here as it delivered a valuable contribution to settling the concerns of many Vietnam veterans and their families.
The Vietnam List
Notes by the Editors:
- The names on the Vietnam List are alphabetical by surname – note – spelt as shown in the Army Pay Records. This may include some errors in spelling for which we apologise. We have corrected some errors with the invaluable assistance from Terry Brown and Howard Chamberlain, but only in so far as the Defence Personnel Records are correct. Where a person has changed names since serving in Vietnam the name recorded in this list will be the name recorded on pay records at the date of their deployment to Vietnam.
- The Regimental Numbers shown again are as recorded in the Pay Records and may contain some errors. They do not include the alphabet letter prefix added after the Vietnam conflict ended.
- The rank shown is again off the pay records and may not always reflect the rank worn by New Zealanders in the Vietnam theatre. As far as we are able to establish, the rank recorded is the substantive rank at that time of deployment. The NZ Army did allow a number of NCO's and Officers to wear "acting rank" to allow them parity in status with their US or Australian peers – even though they may not have qualified for that rank by the regulations of the time.
- Where a veteran served a second tour, the rank will generally show the rank at the time of the first tour.
- The unit shown was as recorded, we are aware that a number of personnel moved during their tour in theatre – this list records the unit through which they were paid.
- Where a veteran served a second tour, their first unit appears first and the second unit listed second. If the same unit was involved, then a number (2) is shown. Note that in the rifle companies, many soldiers served in two units in succession on the one Tour of Duty (TOD).
We welcome feedback on any errors and ask that you show photocopied proof of your request for changes e.g. discharge papers, birth certificate for names etc. Please send any requests for change through the VietnamWar.govt.nz website: [email protected] or to Mrs Sandy Hayes, PO Box 175 Masterton 5840 New Zealand.
Please note that we have decided not to change the recorded names of those service personnel who have changed their names by deed poll or marriage after they served in Vietnam. They served their country on active service in that name and to record names changed after that service will lead to confusion. Footnotes record the changes that we are aware of and these details documented.
Finally, we have shown the decorations awarded in Vietnam against each individual's name. We have not included awards received from other theatres or through meritorious service following Vietnam. The focus in this list is to recognise those awards made as a direct result of their service in Vietnam.
Vietnam Honours and Awards
Notes by the Editors:
- We have added the Honours and Awards records information to the original Flinkenberg List produced by Con Flinkenberg.
- These awards are listed in order of seniority, then by rank in alphabetic order. Dates of the award are not always included as we have not been able to untangle the conflicting dates cited in the documentation associated with each award.
- Generally, ‘citations' are drawn up for bravery and gallantry while on operations e.g. Military Cross (MC), Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). The award of an ‘Honour' e.g. an MBE is usually based on a ‘statement of Service', a ‘Recommendation' or on ‘Biographic Notes'. For ease of reference by families, we have shown all awards as ‘citations'.
- We have deliberately included citations for awards after service in Vietnam in the Queens Birthday or New Year Honours Lists where the citation referred to service in Vietnam was a significant element in the award. This was because the New Zealanders served generally within the Australian Army rules and "the quota" for awards limited the opportunities for outstanding service to be recognised. It was realised that cases of outstanding service would go unrecognised within the Australian system. We have displayed these with Queens Birthday or New Year and the year (QB 1969 or NY 1969) behind the award.
- The commander of the unit involved generally wrote citations. If they did not personally observe the action/s leading to citation, eyewitnesses verified their report. Typically, the recipients regard these awards as a reflection of the support of their comrades in arms.
- For some years, there has been little information available on what the individual citations said. In the past, the New Zealand Defence Department did not make it a standard practice to present a written copy of these citations to the recipients. The recipients may have seen a signal, heard it read out on a Unit Parade, or partly listened while nervously standing in the Governor General's residence before the medal presentation – but most recipients and their families still do not have a copy in writing.
- We have cross-referenced the names of the men wounded and killed where those actions are cited in the gallantry award citations (MC, DCM, MM, and MID's). We have done this deliberately to remove the anonymity associated with the convention of citation wording. Where further information is available on the incident/s from Regimental Histories, we have added these as additional notes so the families can understand some of the circumstances leading up to the action and the names of those men who were directly involved.
- We have confirmed DCM citations through NZDF records. You can also find them in Alan Polaschek’s excellent reference book, The Complete NZ Distinguished Conduct Medal.
- We have also used NZDF records to confirm Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) citations. They are also available in full (along with a wide range of other citations) in the excellent reference book, By Such Deeds by Group Captain Colin Hanson, OBE, RNZAF (Retired). Unfortunately, there are a number of gaps in the RNZAF citations – a Records Clerk destroyed all the citations for RNZAF awards between 1949 and 1979. These lost citations are noted "No citation available". Finally, we have edited some of the RNZAF citations written in the post-Vietnam War period to keep the focus on the recipient’s Vietnam service. We have noted those citations with (edited).
We would like to record with thanks the excellent work completed by Terry Brown, a succession of Military Secretary's, and the Personnel Branch team at Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in Wellington for their willing assistance in locating copies of many of these awards. The staff at the Honours Secretariat, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) are also thanked for their patient searching and advice as we trawled through old newspapers and records to find the awards presented "out of theatre" – generally as part of the New Year or Queens Birthday Honours List after their return to New Zealand.
Family members are encouraged to copy these citations and to record them in a suitable format so that the descendants of these brave men and women will understand a little better what those medals stand for.
There is still work to do on some awards where there is little recorded in the NZDF Personal Files, the Gazette offices in Wellington, Canberra and London and the numbers of survivors continue to lower each year.
For detailed reference and background to these awards see:
NZDF Medals website: medals.nzdf.mil.nz
Honours Unit website: www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours