South-East Asia brought health problems

21:52, Apr 22 2012
Southland Times photo
Dual-veteran Neil Hogan displays his medals. Hogan served in Malaya and Borneo before shipping out for Vietnam.
Southland Times photo
Mementoes of war bear testament to Neil Hogan's time as a soldier.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
V or Victor Company formed in Malaya most of its ranks would go on to serve in Vietnam.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
Kiwi troop check a map while on the ground in Vietnam.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
A Vietnamese street scene.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
Private Neil Hogan (centre) in camp in Vietnam.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
Kiwi soldiers dig-in in Vietnam.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
A member of Neil Hogan's V company models the troops new uniform presented to them in Vietnam.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
The young Neil Hogan relaxes in Malaya.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
A Kiwi soldier relaxes in the Borneo jungle.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
A New Zealander looks for signs of trouble from a tree-top perch in Borneo.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
Kiwis and Aussies rub shoulders in Borneo, Private Neil Hogan is at right.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
Kiwis and Aussies rub shoulders in Borneo, Private Neil Hogan is at right rear.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
Soldiers make a splash while on R and R in Malaya.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
Neil Hogan (front) poses in a Malayan newsagent's shop.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
A typical mid-1960s shot of Malacca's main street.
Southland Times photo supplied by Neil Hogan
Kiwi soldiers on work detail usually doled out to troops for misbehaviour such as going AWOL.

A cocktail of 32 pills and a "jab in the guts'' keeps Neil Hogan alive.

Serving in Malaya, then Borneo, timing meant the Invercargill man was among the first into Vietnam.

His health problems originate in Malaya, he says.

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"They used to make us put a mixture of chemicals down the seams of our trousers that's where you get the rashes.''

Lifting his trouser leg reveals reddened skin and he believes recurring rashes in the years since are caused by the mix.

The private went to Malaya as a reinforcement in 1966, the hunt for communist terrorists was over with efforts confined to keeping them on the other side of the Thai border.

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"We never caught up with them.'' They also guarded against the decreasing likelihood of Indonesian landings and sabotage.

He then was deployed to Borneo for the last six months of the confrontation with Indonesia patrolling ridges at Palamapu near the border.

While firefights didn't happen the soldiers were prepared, he says.

Meanwhile, tactics widely used in Vietnam were being developed in Borneo, he says.

"That's when we think we first got contaminated with Agent Orange.'' He returned to Terendak Camp after Borneo, and once again there was a half-battalion changeover around November 1966.

New Zealand had begun a policy of rotating half battalions.

Rest, recuperation and Christmas was followed by another round of retraining as the battalion absorbed the latest reinforcements to arrive from New Zealand and became operationally ready again.

In 1967 he joined the rest of 1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment into South Vietnam to operate as part of the 1st Australian Task Force.

The original Victor Company was formed.

The Southland Times