Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Vietnam Veterans’ Day marks 60 years since NZ’s involvement

The national commemoration to mark Vietnam Veterans’ Day will be held on Friday 18 August at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington.

“We welcome the members of the public to attend the National Commemoration to mark Vietnam Veterans’ Day at Pukeahu” said Glenis Philip-Barbara, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Pou Mataaho o Te Hua, Deputy Chief Executive, Delivery.

“This year marks 60 years since a New Zealand civilian surgical team arrived in Vietnam– it was another two years before combat troops were sent. The team was also the last to leave Vietnam in 1975.”

By the conclusion of the conflict, more than 3,000 New Zealand military personnel served in South Vietnam. In addition, approximately 300 civilian medical and aid workers travelled from New Zealand to assist the people of South Vietnam.

“Thirty-nine New Zealanders lost their lives during the conflict, with two civilians among them who were serving in the Red Cross or civilian surgical team. Many others were wounded or suffered the effects of toxins such as Agent Orange – effects which continue to affect our citizens and the citizens of Vietnam for succeeding generations,” said Ms Philip-Barbara.

“The commemoration will reflect on the service and sacrifice of the New Zealanders who took part in the Vietnam War, as well as the ongoing impact of war on veterans and their families.”

The Vietnam War (also known as the Second Indo-China War or the American War) lasted from 1960 to 1975. The conflict was between the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the US-backed Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) and ended in the defeat of South Vietnam in April 1975. More than one million soldiers and approximately two million civilians died during the war.

It is often described as the longest and most contentious military experience of the twentieth century, and New Zealand’s involvement attracted significant political and public debate.

People wishing to attend this year’s commemoration are asked to arrive at the Hall of Memories at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park by 10.45am for an 11.00am start. For anyone unable to attend in person, there will be a livestream of the ceremony on the Pukeahu Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pukeahu/

More information about the ceremony is available on the Pukeahu events website: mch.govt.nz/pukeahu/news-events/events.

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