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Vietnam

The last war that New Zealand sent combat troops to fight in was Vietnam. Again this was an undeclared war, where New Zealand contributed artillery and infantry to fight alongside Americans and Australians against the communist North Vietnamese and communist South Vietnamese known as Viet Cong. New Zealand’s contribution was initially medics and engineers, followed by an artillery battery, and finally 2 companies of infantry at Nui Dat (Phuoc Tuy province). Men rotated through the companies (Victor and Whiskey) for operational tours involving difficult patrol and clearance work, often in the face of an unseen enemy.

In 1968, NZSAS arrived and carried out long-range surveillance and ambush missions along with their Australian counterparts. The last troops from New Zealand were teams training the South Vietnamese. New Zealand’s troops were all professional soldiers as opposed to the American draftees and some Australian National Servicemen. They fought the Vietnamese on their own terms in the jungles before being withdrawn in 1972. The war was not popular at home and public pressure played a major role in ending the war.