South-East Asia brought health problems

BY JARED MORGAN
Last updated 05:00 24/04/2010
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Southerners at War

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

ANZAC 2010, soldiers of South-East Asia
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Serving in Malaya, then Borneo, timing meant the Invercargill man was among the first into Vietnam.

His health problems originate in Malaya, he says.

"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.

"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.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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