On the 16th November 1968 a malaria reduced and physically exhausted platoon of fifteen (normally 30) men from V3 Coy blundered into an enemy camp and were badly shot up. Within 10 seconds we had lost a section commander, platoon commander, and the machine gun group in sustained bursts of close range automatic fire. Fortunately the bunker complex was empty of troops with only a caretaker group that had hit us. Had the camp, like many others surrounding Saigon, been full of fresh NVA troops preparing for the Tet offensive and the attack on Saigon then we would have undoubtedly been overrun in minutes.
The only reason that there were not fifteen dead New Zealanders that day was because of the defoliation missions flown many miles to the north of us on the Ho Chi Minh trail that had reduced the flow of vehicles and men to a trickle. The 12th Air commando defoliation Sqn credited with helping to destroy 700 trucks by the 7th USAF fighter bombers.
I have no hesitation in saying that the defoliation program saved my life and many other ANZACS on the operations leading up to the 1969 Tet offensive.