W3 Company - News


link to more news beginning January 2008 - news archive

Noticas Fatal 75863 Sgt LK O'Brien Mor Sect - webmaster [31 December 2007]
Larry O’BRIEN ex 2NZ Regiment 1959-61 Malaya, and W3 Vietnam, passed away at Tikitiki on Saturday, 29 D
ecember 2007.  A service was held at Grays Funeral Services Ltd, Whare Manaaki, Cnr Pukuatua and Amohau Streets, Rotorua, on Monday evening, 31 December 2007 for family and friends.  On Tuesday, 1 January 2008, Larry was taken to Wairoa.  A service was held at 59 Lahore Street, Wairoa, on Thursday, 3 January 2008, at 1100 hrs, followed by committal at the RSA Section of the Wairoa Cemetery.  Messages to 59 Lahore Street, Wairoa.  Tributes here.

Jim Cutler [1 January 2008]
It is with great sadness that I learn of the passing of Larry O’Brien – he was the 1 Platoon W3 Company Mortar Fire Controller (MFC) for the greater part of my tour in South Vietnam (May – Nov 1970).  With this sadness there is also a great deal of fondness and respect for a professional mortar man whose sense of humour was contagious.  Whenever I have thought of Larry I have had a smile on my face.  Larry was a slightly built man, and given the load that a MFC normally carried (including the ’77 set - especially after a Maintenance Demand delivery) Larry would be seen to be quite bent over with the weight.  Whenever this was mentioned to him he was quick to say (with the O’Brien twinkle in his eye) that it wasn’t the weight of his pack, he was just keeping his head down so his eyes were closer to the ground to search for mines!!  [As an aside, Larry was normally the one, after the lead section had passed, who did in fact pick up the improvised mines (fortunately for us all, old, inactive mines).  I don’t think I ever heard Larry complain about his lot – except on the professional mortar front when he had a right to draw to the attention of others that they were not as professional as he was.  I will never forget one night in a platoon night position when, based on information from Company HQ, we decided it prudent to call in a defensive fire (DF) task – and “bring it in a bit closer than usual”.  It was after dark and Larry was on the “G” net (artillery) whispering away to adjust fire (provided by an Australian battery).  During the final stages of the artillery adjustment process one round landed to the West of our position (about right we decided) and Larry requested a confirmatory shot.  This last shot landed “quite close” to our position but to the East of us!!!  If you have ever wondered how to “Check Fire” and tell someone off in no uncertain terms on a radio in a whisper, then Larry was the man to listen to that night!!  He left the person on the other end of the radio in no doubt as to what he was going to do to him if he ever came across him.  [There had been a mistake on the gun line - it was investigated - I cannot recall if it was an elevation error or an extra charge bag, but disciplinary action did occur].  Larry was one of the most meticulous persons I have known in carrying out his MFC duties.  It was my honour to have served with him.
We have lost a good man. Rest in peace Larry. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year..!

From Duke Henry:
just sending a Christmas message to all the guys out there.
See you all at the 08 reunion hopefully .
Caught up with Gary O'Neil in Manila last month
Be safe God Bless and enjoy the years ahead
Regards Duke

Tribute 08 - A Vietnam Commemoration - Webmaster  [9 December 2007]
Tribute 08, 'honouring veterans and their families contribution to New Zealand' is being held Wellington Queens Birthday Weekend 30 May - 1 June 2008.  It is said by the government that Tribute08 will acknowledge those who served there, those who died in the service of their country and their families.  Phil Goff [Minister of Defence] thinks Tribute08 is an opportunity for New Zealand as a country to formally acknowledge the contribution of Vietnam veterans, apologise for the mistakes that have been made, and pay proper and fitting tribute to those who served.  It will be preceded by the passing of a parliamentary resolution acknowledging Vietnam Veterans and a formal apology tendered by the Prime Minster.  [source 'Sitrep" Tribute08 official newspaper]  The Tribute08 website has further information and veterans registered under the recent AO MOU will receive regular updates by mail.

W3 Company people are encouraged to be there.  There are sub-unit gatherings planned for the evening of Friday 30 May and the afternoon of Saturday 31 May, with other activities [in appearance the programme is similar to Parade98] planned for other times.  Early registration is encouraged, it can be done online, and accommodation packages are available.

The W3 website will have further Company updates.

Catching Up - Webmaster  [27 November 2007]
Chris Kennedy has surfaced in Dunedin, has two pubs to worry about.  Contact him at Normanby Tavern, 454 North Road, North East Valley, Dunedin 03 473 0373

Seems Peter Brown has joined the ranks of W3 people in uniform [or not, depending on their contracts].  Sunray and Zilla bumped into him outside Defence House in Wellington 19 November.  Others still in the ranks are Jim Cutler [also in Defence House] and Bill Blair [3 Logistics Regiment Burnham].  Any others..?

Bob Newson bumped into Martin Cooper [Tom Cooper's youngest brother] last weekend, Martin tells me they had an awesome chat. 

Martin Cooper has provided the detail around the unveiling of Tom's new headstone, all veterans are invited to join the Cooper whanau for the occasion. 

Pacestick [Doug Mackintosh] lives in Spencerville on the northern edge of Christchurch, probably within 300 metres of where the body of the deaf woman Emma Agnew was found last night. 

Research into 3Platoon Accident 10 October 1970 Released - Webmaster  [18 November 2007]
A year ago, as a contribution to the 'Year of the Veteran', a W3 website project [click link for detail] started to research the detail of the 3Pl accident that occurred on 10 October 1970.  Last month the research was provisionally released to those posted to 3Pl or present with 3Pl on 10 October 1970.  The research covers 50 A4 pages and includes maps and photos.  Much of the detail was drawn from actual command post radio logs covering the first 20 days of October 1970, statements made at the time, interviews of people present, and contributions from others associated with the events.  After 3Pl have had a chance to understand the detail of the research a further report to update the current details will be more generally released mid-2008. 

Researcher:  The researcher was Bruce Young, Cpl MFC 2Pl W3 Coy October 1970.  The researcher gratefully acknowledges the contribution made to the research by fellow veterans in New Zealand and Australia, their families, Defence Force and NZ Archives staff that assisted access to official records, and by many others who contributed their piece to the puzzle.  The researcher is also indebted to Brigadier Torrance for his retention of W3 Coy records and his accurate comment based on these records.  Finally the researcher is indebted to Australian colleagues Bob Brumm and John Alcock for their efforts reviewing draft passages concerning the actions of Australian veterans involved with 3Pl in October 1970. 

In offering their recollections many veterans confronted unpleasant memories which they thought had been well buried as having happened at another time and place.  It is hoped that they and their families can now better understand what happened on 10 October 1970, and that those affected by the accident can now have closure and improved wellness. Their contribution in 1970, and in contributing to the research today, is greatly appreciated.

Review Panel:  A panel of three veterans present in South Vietnam in 1970 were asked to review the research.  The panel comprised:
Colonel Robert Upton, Colonel of the Regiment RNZIR
Brigadier Evan Torrance, Honorary Colonel 1RNZIR 1989 - 1991, officer commanding W3 Coy 1969-70
Colonel Baden Ewart, Honorary Colonel 2/1RNZIR

The review panel were asked to assess the research for balance, fairness and accuracy using their own recollections of conditions in 1970 and the researcher is grateful to them for their careful analysis and comment. 

Colonel Baden Ewart was further asked to comment on the outcome of the research:

“Bruce Young’s research is a careful, professional, considerate and compassionate reflection on the events of 10 October 1970.  Hopefully those involved can put aside the contentions of the past and reflect on what Bruce has revealed; good guys doing a good job having a bad day.  Like other investigations into similar events Bruce’s narrative reveals a host of sometimes small events that, taken together, conspire to set up the conditions which lead to an accident.  3 Platoon’s accident was clearly just that, an accident.

The narrative reminds us that most infantry operations in close country have the potential to become confused; at best recollections of those involved only extend to the limit of what they could see and hear.  Further, the circumstances under which contact occurs tend to reduce the accuracy of frail memories.  In the search to find the ‘truth’ we can only get to the most likely explanation; Bruce has achieved this.

Bruce’s narrative reminds us all of the time we spent in SVN.  His description of the reality of close country operations, the moment to moment tension alongside the confidence mates had in each other, even when they couldn’t see or hear them through the foliage, accurately describes the operating conditions of the time.  3 Platoon did its duty that day, before and subsequently.  Each of the men involved in the accident acted properly; each was and remains a ‘good guy’.

These guys earned the respect of their mates by their courage during their tour.  That respect remains today, almost four decades later, because of the bonds forged in adversity and the quiet, calm confidence each had that they could rely on their mates then, and now.  That New Zealand hasn’t looked after their veterans like Ian Herd well is another debate; but Bruce has done his mates a favour in this piece of work.”

W3 People attend V1 Coy Reunion - Evan Torrance [1 November 2007]from left: Evan Torrance, Roy Reddy, Maureen & Ian Paipa [Torrance]

V1 Coy had a reunion at the Palmerston North RSA weekend 23-25 October.  Sunray caught up with Roy Reddy [now living in Morrinsville] and Maureen and Ian Paipa. 

Roy and Ian are the only V1 people to return with W3 for a second tour.

from left: Evan Torrance, Roy Reddy, Maureen and Ian Paipa [Torrance]

Tom Cooper grave to receive a new headstone [22 October 2007]Tom Cooper [Welsh]
It was recently found that Tom Cooper's official headstone had two significant errors; an incorrect age, and an incorrect regimental number.  Detail of the errors and other background is explained here.  Tom is buried at Taupiri Maunga in the Waikato.
The Cooper family have accepted an offer by Veterans Affairs to have the headstone replaced.  The unveiling of the new headstone is planned for Saturday 26 January 2008, in conjunction with the unveiling of a headstone to another brother more recently deceased.  Martin Cooper, Tom's youngest brother is handling arrangements for the occasion and has extended an invitation for any veterans to attend, including an invitation to stay at the Marae the night prior.  Martin will provide a programme which when received will be available on this website.  Martin will need to know numbers in advance, his email address is: martin.cooper@wave.co.nz

On 10 October 1970 W3 Company lost a valued comrade and an awesome friend.  37-years later we still remember him, for his service, and for the manner in which he died.  There is among some veterans a real sadness about Tom’s death which has got stronger over time.  We never had the opportunity to properly mourn Tom’s death; he was taken injured from us in the field and we never saw him again. 
Veterans spoken to very much appreciate that they may attend the unveiling of Tom’s new headstone.  It is to be regretted that Tom’s headstone had significant errors but given the strong interest shown in attending the new unveiling it is hoped that this occasion will assist Tom’s mates have closure and a healing of memories. 

W3 Attendance at 2 NZ Regiment Reunion - Doug Mackintosh [7 October 2007]

[then] Sgt Doug Mackintosh 9Pl & Int Sect, Cpl Ron Lichtwark A Coy, Lt Evan Torrance 7Pl C CoyPhoto taken at 2 NZ Regiment reunion Palmerston North 2006. 
Now CSM, CQMS and Company Commander, then
Sgt Doug Mackintosh 9Pl and Int Sect,  
Cpl Ron Lichtwark A Coy,
Lt Evan Torrance 7Pl C Coy

[the CQMS appears to have grown a bit taller since Vietnam].

'Pacestick' wonders if others in W3 Coy were also 2NZ Regt members..?

[then] Sgt Doug Mackintosh 9Pl and Int Sect, Cpl Ron Lichtwark A Coy,
Lt Evan Torrance 7Pl C Coy

Copyright Breach and Apology [15 September 2007]
Gary Brooker wrote a series of articles based on his tour with W3 Coy and published these in a book titled 'Two Lanyards in Vietnam'.  The website published a number of these articles but without permission as Gary died of cancer in 2003.  The website has now been informed that before Gary died he passed the rights to the book to his eldest daughter Cassandra, presently a captain in the Australian Army and recently returned from Iraq.  Cassandra Brooker has now emailed the website asking that the articles, with one exception, be removed from the website as she is planning a further print edition of the book.
The website is happy to comply with Cassandra's requirements and wishes her all success in arranging for her fathers work to be printed a 3rd time.  The webmaster apologises unreservedly for breaching her copyright.

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.  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 at next month.
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.     Rex, all the best from W3..!

50th Commemoration 1 RNZIREvan Torrance [5 August 2007Jules Toheriri, Huia Brown, Evan Torrance, KK Kahukiwa & Jim Cutler]
On a fine but cool Saturday morning [4 August 2007] the powhiri to welcome the ex-members and their families onto the 1 RNZIR Marae was one of the highlights of the weekend activities.  A haka performed by a 300 plus group of soldiers against a backdrop of 10 LAV's was most spectacular and very awe-inspiring.  The recently refurbished battalion History Room attracted considerable favourable comment and is well worth a visit if you happen to pass by Linton Camp.  The $1000 that the 2005 W3/V4 Reunion gifted to 1 RNZIR for the upgrading of the room has been well spent. 

Jules Toheriri, Huia Brown, Evan Torrance, KK Kahukiwa and Jim Cutler

The Battalion Parade and Beating of Retreat was held on the parade ground in atrocious conditions - continuous rain and an Antarctic temperature. Nevertheless, Evan Torrance, Huia Brown & Larry Rangiwaithe precision of the drill and the steadiness on parade was of the highest standard.  As the Battalion marched off in the wet, cold dark gloom of early evening the names were intoned of all who had died while serving these past 50 years.  Our fallen comrades Tom Cooper, David Wright and John Gurnick were among those remembered on this special occasion - gone but not forgotten.
Following the parade 1800 attended an All Ranks Function held in the 1 RNZIR LAV Garages adjacent to the parade ground.  All in all a great weekend - very well organised and enjoyed by all despite the weather!!
Photos taken at the Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph Palmerston North 5 August 2007.

Evan Torrance, Huia Brown and Larry Rangiwai

Dave TurnerNoticas Fatal 541953 Pte DR Turner 1Pl - webmaster [16 July 2007]
The NZ Herald has carried the death notice of Dave Turner [1Pl] as having died 14 July 2007 at Waikato Hospital.  Tangi at Te Tokanganui-A-Noho Marae Te Kuiti, funeral service 17 July 2007.  Tributes here.

from Tame Turinui off the Vets Net [19 July 2007]:
Approximately 20 vets and service persons were welcomed on to Dave's marae at 10.30am of the funeral day.  Tuckson Henry, Graham Smith, Miki Apiti and myself processed the rituals of encounter and words of farewell to our brother warrior on behalf of all veterans who would have wished it so and in particular to convey condolences on behalf of those who had offered their words or thoughts in that vein.  No reira, acknowledgements and greetings from Daves family, and his two care giving nieces to all veterans who served with or knew Dave and in particular Hanks Mihi of Aroha, and thoughts from Brian Meyer and Kev Bruce as well as all of W3.
The service was typical marae based, led by Rev Barney Winikerei, Waikato 28 Bn Branch padre, and the eulogy given by Tutu Ormsby of 4 G Med Bty.  Dave was laid to rest amongst his Ngati Maniapoto ancestors, in the tribal cemetery tucked in behind his marae, TeTokanganui-a noho.  Family and friends formed the bulk of about 200 people in attendance, including veterans from Viet Nam and Malaya conflicts as well as service persons from TF.  RSM Mac marshalled the honour guard and the Ode (in both languages) were the final words given to Dave at burial.
The roll call for Dave's last parade included Freda Pirikahu Moffit, Miki Apiti, Bunny Tumai, Wally Henry, Ian Barnes, Tame Turinui, RSM McCallon, Graham Smith, Tutu Ormsby, Danny Ormsby and Hoppy Hetet, one of only two mobile 28 Bn vets remaining in the Waikato / Maniapoto area.  Although a small group it had wide representation, NZSAS, WRAC, 161 Bty, V Coy, W Coy, and of course Waikato and Whanganui branches of D Coy, 28 Maori Bn Association.

It is appropriate to note a number of Ngati Maniapoto soldier sons who lay alongside Dave: Jerry Barrett, Da Bell, and according to the RSM, also Lou Dargaville................... just a moment to remember them once more... lest we forget.

from Don Wolff: [19 July 2007]
Sorry to hear passing of Dave, hearing his name brings back fond memories of when we were stationed in Terendak before our move to Vietnam and of the fun we had. Its upon hearing of the death of old mates that one wonders why we have never kept in contact, time moves on but some memories remain. Condolences to those Dave has left behind.

Bob Upton [1 July 2007]
I have been in contact with CO 1RNZIR re the 1RNZIR History Room in light of the donation we made after the W3/V4 Reunion in 2005.  CO 1RNZIR has assured me that the room has been completely re-designed and a lot of work has gone into preparing the exhibits to cover the various phases of the Bn history eg Malaya, Vietnam, East Timor plus sections relating to sport, alliances etc.
The plan (which the CO states will be achieved) is to have the room completed for the reunion weekend 3-5 Aug. The CO asked that ex-members critically examine what is displayed and if you believe there are errors do not hesitate to bring it to their attention. They do not have any detailed knowledge of the early days of the unit. To put it in context, remember the CO and RSM were born during the period the Bn was involved in Confrontation and only just joined the Army in time to serve in the last Bn in Singapore.
I regret I will not be attending the 1RNZIR reunion as I will be in the UK/Europe on family business, Onward - Bob

link to more news from before July 2007 - news archive