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Dave Nesbitt's demise - hat tip Colin Fraser 2Pl

Dave Nesbitt died as a result of a traffic accident after leaving the local hotel at Sutherlands South Australia late at night on 28 February 1972.  Dave, working in the Outback driving bulldozers, died one month short of his 22nd birthday.  Colin Fraser was present on the night [but not at the accident] and was asked to identify Dave.  An Australian newspaper article reported that a truck driver was charged with causing death by negligence after Police determined Dave was knocked down by a truck travelling at high speed, surprisingly the driver had contacted police several hours after the accident to say he thought he had hit a kangaroo [a common occurrence in Australia but rarely reported to police so why this time..?].  Colin has asked for a copy of the police report [OIA request]

Dave was cremated in Adelaide on Saturday 4 March 1972 and his ashes were later returned to family in Northland who interred them at Maungaturoto cemetery.  Shown i
s a clipping from an Australian paper [on the left] and a death notice in a New Zealand paper.  The death notice suggests Dave's memorial service was quickly organised, going by the dates in the notice.

Upheld by our Young - Merie Kenyon

This is a family story about Bill, Tonie and Charlie.  Bill was 3Pl W3 but now has cancer, Tonie is Bill's grand-daughter, and Charlie is Bill's brother, Pte Charlie Kenyon of V4 now deceased.  The story is a sidebar to our service 40-odd years ago and covers the place family assume in our waning years, in this case maintaining a link between two brothers by a very involved grand-daughter.

There is a touching family dynamic shown in the photo of Bill (on left with Nev Howell behind) and his grand-daughter Tonie.  Tonie [who calls Bill 'Pappy] has been marching with Bill on ANZAC Day since she could walk, the first time in Manurewa when she was around two-years of age, running out from behind the rope to hold his hand.  It is now an annual ritual for the two of them and Merie says that Tonie has a good knowledge of the meaning of ANZAC Day.  For ANZAC Day 2011 Bill decided then 9-years old Tonie should wear the medals of his brother CharlieThe photo was taken at the Taradale ANZAC Day gathering that year, Tonie in a V4 jacket and wearing Charlie's medals with pride.  From the look on Bill's face he is obviously proud of the connection he has with Tonie.

Next year Tonie is likely to also be wearing Bill's medals.   Bill's cancer drags on and while the oncologists' are happy with his progress it is unlikely she will have her Pappy beside her in 2014.  Bill has been out of hospital for a while and the family are hoping that he stays out a little bit longer.  Tonie meanwhile is determined to keep the faith for both Charlie and Pappy. 

If Bill can make it to ANZAC Day 2014 lets hope Merie has a photo of the occasion to share with us.

 [Bill did celebrate ANZAC Day 2014 with other veterans but Tonie was unable to be present.  Bill passed away peacefully around 7AM 17 June 2014 after a long tenacious fight against cancer starting with treatment for a brain tumour in May 2013 and being given little chance of surviving but he set himself a number of goals and to the surprise of many [but not wife Merie] reached each one.]

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There's A Wall In Washington - Mark BinningCpl Mark Binning 1970

Washington DC, November 1992 late on a very cold but clear evening I mounted the special dais and was humbled, and honoured, to read the names of the 37 New Zealanders who had lost their lives in Vietnam.  Their names drifted in the cold still air and settled lightly on the Vietnam Memorial - ‘The Wall’ - mingling with the 58,272 US Vietnam Veterans who had lost their lives...

I had come to Washington DC as a soldier some years before US Vietnam Veteran Jan Scruggs, Cpl 199th Light Infantry Brigade 1969-1970, began lobbying for a memorial to acknowledge and recognise the service and sacrifice of his countrymen who served in Vietnam.  I had been living there for six years when Scruggs lobbied Congress for a site, initiated a national fund raising campaign, and announced the Memorial’s design would be selected through a national design competition. view of The Wall, Washington DC [internet]

view of The Wall, Washington DC [internet]

Having left the Army and resettled in Washington as a civilian, my soldier life was all but forgotten.  I did however take an interest in the planning and construction of ‘The Wall’, not that one could see much during construction because the actual wall is sunk below ground level.  Then in November 1982, with the build completed, thousands of Vietnam War veterans descended on Washington and on 13 November marched to the site for the memorial dedication.  On that day, I too, watched the dedication ceremony standing on top of the slope that angled down to the apex where the two arms of the wall meet.  Leaving my office near the White House, as I had done in the days leading up to the dedication, I enjoyed mingling with the US veterans.  They were an odd lot, dressed in their old fatigues and jungle hats, most now with long hair – a fusion of war protester and veteran warrior.  But they had come to Washington so the nation could acknowledge their service and the sacrifice.  To finally, come home.  I believe there were a lot of veterans who had been lost until that time and ‘The Wall’ allowed them to move on.  Such was the impact of ‘The Wall’ and the occasion.Statue of Three Soldiers - Washington DC [internet]

In 1984, the statue of the Three Soldiers was dedicated and added to ‘The Wall’ complex.  In the beginning there had been some very negative reaction to the winning design and this statue was commissioned as a compromise.  The statue stands away from and doesn’t impact on ‘The Wall.’  To me, they are two different memorials.  ‘The Wall’ is powerful and touches you.  The statue is interesting but fails to capture the power and feeling of the main memorial.  It is part of the memorial complex at Constitution Gardens which includes the Vietnam Women’s memorial.   

Statue of Three Soldiers - Washington DC [internet]

Not only to the veterans but to all who visit it, ‘The Wall’ has a profound effect.  I would visit ‘The Wall’ periodically on my own and with visitors.  Living just behind the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, meant the Mall was my backyard.  Often when out for a run, or bike ride, I would take some time out and sit on the grass slope and look at ‘The Wall’,  it was then I would think about my year in Vietnam and the people I served with.  It was very much a place I could go to quietly reflect.

In 1992 Alan Nixey, EVSA Secretary, asked me to represent the EVSA at the 10th anniversary celebrations for ‘The Wall’.  Delighted at being asked, I coordinated my involvement with the Army attaché at the NZ Embassy.  There was not much we could be involved in, but along with the attaché we supplied flags and took our turns reading the names of the dead, a week long non-stop reading of the 58,272 names.  At the beginning of the week of the celebrations a rugby referee friend from rural Virginia, Ed Browder – a former US Marine Captain and Vietnam veteran, arrived to stay and made himself available to help wherever possible with the organising committee.  It was good having Ed for the week.  Away from the clutches of rugby we took the time to talk about Vietnam – the first time I had done so in years – while we steadily worked our way through the 12 bottles of Chardonnay Ed had brought.  It was on one of these evenings that I had the opportunity to recite the names of the 37 New Zealand dead. 

A year later I was again asked by Alan Nixey to give whatever help I could to Pamela Miley-Terry who was coming to Washington to attend the Vietnam Women’s memorial project dedication of the statute 'Vietnam Women's Memorial' and we invited Pam to stay for the week.  Prior to Pam arriving I attended a reception at the Australian Embassy for the group of Australian nurses who had arrived for the dedication.  Also at the reception was Diane Carlson Evans who’s drive brought his new memorial to fruition.  Diane was a very charming, down to earth, woman and I spent some pleasant minutes chatting with her.  Pam had plenty to do during the week, catching up with the Australian nurses and attending a mental health symposium among other events.  She and I met with the NZ Military attaché to get some support, particularly a New Zealand flag for Pam to carry in the dedication parade, Thursday, 11th November 1993.  Pam’s position was at the tail end of the parade and she was quite a lonely sight carrying her flag – but she got a huge aVietnam Womens memorial Washington DC [internet]mount of support from the crowds that had come to watch the parade and the dedication.  I scooted back and forth along the parade and took some photos to record the occasion for Pam.  The Vice president, Al Gore, was in attendance with many other dignitaries.  Afterwards, my wife Fran and I joined Pam and the Aussie's for a few drinks at a bar.  It was a raucous afternoon.  That evening there was a celebration dance.

Vietnam Women's memorial Washington DC [internet]

Often some specific reason would take me to ‘The Wall’.  My rugby referee ex Marine Ed Browder, an assistant principal at a Junior High School in Louisa, Virginia, would sometimes bring a class through to Washington to visit “The Wall’.  On those occasions Ed would call and ask if I would meet them at ‘The Wall’ to give the students a talk about New Zealand’s involvement in the Vietnam War.   

I have been lucky in that I lived in Washington and was witness to ‘The Wall’ from the inception of the project through to its dedication.  I have been honoured to have been actively involved in the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s memorial and the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the dedication of ‘The Wall’.  I may have been the only New Zealand Vietnam veteran to have done so.sample of names on Wall [internet]

sample of names on Wall [internet]

“There's a wall in Washington
and it's made of cold black granite
They say 60,000 names are etched there in it
in that wall in Washington”

lyrics from “There’s a Wall in Washington” By Iris Dement

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Detective Howell discovers Creativity - NZ Police Detective Laurie Howell NZ Police reading his book to a Central Normal School class, the book is a publishers proof and more fund raising is required to allow publishing. [NZ Police]

This press release from the NZ Police about one of their own also concerns one of our own.  Laurie Howell is the eldest son of Neville Howell 2Pl.

"No winter flu bug was going to drag down Palmerston North Detective Laurie Howell.  When he found himself off sick for two weeks in May he wrote a children's book, and on Friday (31 July 09) he shared his creativity with a group of children at Central Normal School as part of their Book Week.  Laurie's inspiration came from the Blue Light Trolley Derby held in the city for the first time this year. He was one of the organisers who joined crowds of people to race their home-made mean machines down Pork Chop Hill.  It was shortly after that event that Laurie fell ill and The Great Manawatu Trolley Derby book was born, bringing the event to life and capturing the thrill of the day in pages of rhyme and photos.  "I've always liked reading Lynley Dodd books to my kids," said Laurie, "and have always found it quite easy to make rhyme.  The first paragraph came to me and the whole thing flowed from there."  Laurie has two sons aged 12 and 7 and a 9-year-old daughter and when they arrived home from school they were 'blown away' that dad had written a book.  He is now hoping to find sponsors to have the book published and raise some money for St John and the Square Trust rescue helicopter.
"I got so much support when I was organising the derby from local groups and businesses," said Laurie. "I don't want to make any money out of the book I would just like to see it published to help recognise the event and the hard work that people put into it.  If the book did profit it would be only fitting that the money was given back to some of the emergency service volunteers who helped make the day such a success."

Laurie has been well and truly bitten by the writing bug.  He is part of a huge extended family who originate from the UK, and had already begun work on a historical novel tracing their roots.  Writing the children's book has reinvigorated him, and the historical project has gained new momentum.  It is a much larger task however, so don't expect to see that project finished any time soon."

Anyone interested in helping Laurie to get his children's book published can contact him at Palmerston North Police Station on 06 351 3600.

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Daughters no match for dad in 'Rexathon'  - The Southland Times, Monday 27 August 2007

Veteran Awarua rower Rex Ryan has faced his fair share of challenges raising five daughters, but none like the one he had at the weekend [August 2007].  Rex's daughters, Rebecca, Erin Rikiti, Meredith, Hannah and Abby took on their father in a pentathlon.  It had been organised as part of Rex's 60th, as well as daughter Meredith's 21st birthday celebrations.  Eldest daughter Rebecca had come all the way from London to join the family affair, while Abby ventured down from Christchurch.
The 'Rexathon' started at Splash Palace with a 500m swim before competitors went to Bluff for a 5km run, 15km cycle, and another 5km run.  The final event, a 2000m row, was staged at the Waihopai Rowing Club in Otatara.  The disciplines were divided amongst the five daughters, but Rex had to complete every one.  The sisters knew what they were up against and were ready for the challenge.
"Dad has always been extremely fit," Rebecca said.  But the siblings were confident they could beat him.  Rex reckoned otherwise.  "I am going to win," he said.  And he was right.  It was a very close race but "Dad won just" by naturally taking out the last event, Rebecca said.
The 'Rexathon' was not only a great family day it was also good preparation for the World Rowing Masters Regatta in Zagreb, Croatia, which Rex will represent New Zealand during September 2007.
ME AND MY GIRLS: Father Rex with (from back left) Mary, Meredith and Hannah Ryan, Erin Rikiti (nee Ryan) and (front from left) granddaughter Anna Rikiti, Rebecca Ryan, granddaughter Helena Rikiti and Abby Ryan.    

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Sgt Dave Heywood Remembered - Bruce Young and Wayne Holah [NZSAS AssociatioSgt Dave Heywood 2Pl [Upton]n]

Sgt Dave Heywood served with 2Pl as Pl Sgt for the first 6-months of the W3 Company deployment before being recalled to Malaysia to be a jungle warfare instructor at the British Jungle Warfare School, Pulada, Johore State.  He later rejoined the NZSAS in Papakura, was promoted to WO2 and died under largely unexplained circumstances while with the NZSAS in 1981.  The detail of his death was researched by the NZSAS Association historian Wayne Holah and is declassified.  Further information is in "The Praetorian STARShip: the untold story of the Combat Talon" pages 248 and 249.

Sgt Dave Heywood 2Pl [Upton]

In February 1981 NZSAS sent a contingent to the Philippines for three weeks to participate in SPECWAREX 81, in the contingent were WO2 Dave Heywood and SSgt Dennis Terry.  Exercise ground forces comprised Special Forces soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines and the United States.  US Naval Air Station Cubi Point, Philippines [Wikipadea]

US Naval Air Station Cubi Point, Philippines [Wikipadea]

The US Air Force provided two MC130E 'Combat Talon 1' aircraft from 1st Special Ops Sqn who were to finish the exercise by extracting the ground forces from the Cubi Point Naval Air Station early morning 26 February.  The Combat Talon aircraft were fitted with analogue terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radars for flights at low level at night or in adverse weather and the crew members were using night vision equipment [NVG], having taped over the flight instruments to avoid ambient light interfering with the NVG.  The aircrew were very experienced and had flown the exercise route previously.  The plan required the aircraft to perform a landing without lights, stop momentarily for the ground forces to board, and then take-off [exfiltrate] to circle out to sea toward Capones Island before making a routine landing back at the Naval Air Station.  SSgt Terry and Dave MC130E 'Combat Talon' firing self defence flares [US Air Force]Heywood were assigned to the second MC130E [No 64-0564, callsign S-59] which landed at 0506 AM and took off at 0508 AM.  Aircrew on board 64-0564 spoke to the exercise control cell at 0514 and again at 0521 AM, at neither time giving any indication that they were experiencing problems.  The leading aircraft landed safely back at Cubi Point. 

MC130E 'Combat Talon' firing self defence flares [US Air Force]

Local fishermen observed 64-0564 several times between Capones Island and the crash site, saying that the aircraft was seen drifting down toward the surface of the water until at 0523 AM it impacted into the water, and sank after floating for about 10-minutes.  23-people were killed on impact with only six bodies being recovered from the site (including both New Zealanders).  The aircraft electronic warfare officer [a member of the flight crew] survived the crash and was rescued by the fishermen.  He stated to the official USAF investigation that other crew intercom conversations did not hint of trouble with the aircraft and he did not know what caused the aircraft to descend into the water.  Given the location, the absence of aircraft lights and eyewitness reports it is unlikely that the aircraft was hit by ground fire.  The depth of water at the crash site [240 feet] prevented recovery of the wreckage, so the official investigation did not make a finding as to the cause of the accident.  It was thought that the aircraft terrain-following radar had malfunctioned by not switching automatically to a radar over-ride condition [as radar does not receive returns from the sea surface] causing the aircraft to gently descend, with the covered flight deck instrumentation preventing the crew from noticing the altitude changes.  [crew fatigue was also considered but apparently discounted].Dave Heywood's plaque in the ashes section of the Papakura Servicemen's Cemetery [Torrance]

The 23 men who died in the crash were a cross-section of the participating nationalities; American USAF aircrew and exercise controllers and US Army soldiers; Philippines Navy sailors, three Australian SASR members and the two New Zealanders.

Dave Heywood's plaque in the ashes section of the
Papakura Servicemen's Cemetery [Torrance]

Both New Zealanders received full military funerals on 5 March 1981.  SSgt Dennis (Bro) Terry's funeral service was held at St Mary's Catholic Church in Papakura and his ashes were later spread at sea off the Mahia peninsular.  [His widow Pam Miley­Terry is herself a Vietnam veteran having served as a nursing sister with 1AFH at Vung Tau].  Dave Heywood's funeral service was at Christ Church, Papakura and his ashes are buried in the military section of Papakura Cemetery. 

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