Surviving the jungles of Vietnam: Eye on enemy

By Genevieve Helliwell


Patrick Nolan's story


"There are some funny things that come out of war but there is nothing funny about war."

This is the view of war veteran Patrick Nolan, who is open about some of his war experiences but there are some things he will not share.

"Why? Because I don't think it's got anything to do with anyone else."

Mr Nolan enlisted at age 15 as a member of the regular force cadets and completed a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship.

He did a paratrooper course at Whenuapai, Auckland, where he met Dawn, the woman he would marry.

When news came a soldier had died and he was the next in line, Mr Nolan was ready to go to war - and he was off to Vietnam.

"We had the best training, mindset and equipment available to us and we used it well.

Kiwis were the best soldiers," he said.

On August 26, 1967, he began his duties.

He will not reveal much about his time abroad but spoke about the importance of Anzac Day and how we should remember those who had fallen while serving their country.

Mr Nolan also served in Singapore in the 1970s and the Middle East in the 1980s.

Mr Nolan was to be parade commander at today's Anzac Day services at Tauranga RSA.

Dick Frew's story


Stalking silently through the Malayan jungle, Dick Frew had to watch for tigers, bears and snakes while staying alive in the battle against guerrilla fighters.

His platoon pushed daily through dense jungle with less than 2m of visibility in search of signs of the Malayan People's Liberation Army, which had turned against British governance in 1948.

His shirt rotted on his back, and his socks got so wet they shrank on his feet but his time in the jungle in the Malayan Emergency is something he won't forget.

"The men in my section are closer to me than my brothers will ever be and I have four brothers," he said. "We went through a lot of things together and we know things about each other no one else knows."

Mr Frew, now 77, enlisted in 1959 as a 2nd Battalion infantryman with the NZ Regiment. He sailed from Wellington on his 24th birthday but the boat broke down and it was 19 days before he and other Kiwi troops landed in Malaya.

"The main thing was to survive, and as well as human enemy there were tigers, buffalo, scorpions, snakes and other jungle creatures."

During his two-year service, no one in his battalion was shot.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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