Serving and former New Zealand Army personnel have come together at Linton Military Camp in Palmerston North to remember fallen comrades.
The 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) memorial wall, which was five years in the making, was unveiled on Saturday in recognition of the 97 personnel that have passed away while posted to the unit since 1957.
The project planning was started in 2018 by then Commanding Officer Colonel Aidan Shattock.
Commanding Officer 1RNZIR, Lieutenant Colonel Logan Vaughan, said there had been a huge amount of input and invaluable support from the Army and local community over the years for the project.
“Te Ao Turoa Environmental Centre and Rangitāne o Manawatū provided more than 300 plants to be planted around the wall by 1st Battalion personnel, and Downer NZ provided specialised guidance around placement so the garden can be maintained in the future,” he said.
“First year apprentices from the School of Military Engineering, 25 Engineer Support Squadron and 2nd Engineer Regiment have been a continued support to 1st Battalion during the construction of the wall. Establishing the pathway, shifting massive amounts of aggregate, doing construction and placing the steel has really been a team effort.
“This will be a place where family and friends, and past, present and future soldiers can honour those who’ve passed, in a living memorial to our fallen. It will ensure that future generations never forget their service and sacrifice.”
Inscribed on the wall are the names of those who served and died, whether at home, on exercise or operation, in Malaya, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Australia, East Timor (before it became Timor-Leste), and Afghanistan.
Kate McGregor’s husband, Staff Sergeant Neilroy McGregor, from Alpha Company, 1 RNZIR, died in November 2018 after being diagnosed with cancer while he was serving with the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai Peninsula.
At the time Mrs McGregor, a logistician, was serving as a Captain in the New Zealand Army. The couple have two children, Kaea and Ihaia who are now young adults.
Mrs McGregor said she had been looking forward to attending the opening of the Linton Memorial for Fallen Personnel.
“Having a memorial wall is great. It’s somewhere people can go to just quietly remember. And it means the name of your loved one gets to live on. You know you always have them and their stories but this is where you can go to reflect.
“Neilroy was very outgoing, and he was a member of the Patriots Motorcycle Club, as well as Brothers In Arms. He loved the idea of going on motorcycle runs and that sort of things to remember military personnel who have passed. He would think this was a wonderful way to remember the fallen.”
The New Zealand Defence Force’s Liaison Officer for Families of the Fallen, Staff Sergeant Tina Grant, also helped bring the wall to fruition. She made many visits to the NZDF archives to source the necessary background information on the 97 fallen personnel remembered through the memorial.