No Minister


John died on Friday. John was the Platoon Sergeant of I Platoon, Victor 3 Company in Vietnam (my Company). Someone will correct me if I’m wrong but I suspect John was the last living New Zealand recipient of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), one down from the Victoria Cross. The DCM was replaced in the 1990s by the indigenous New Zealand Gallantry Star.

A couple of extracts from his citation ….

On the 10th November 1968 his platoon engaged an enemy force moving cautiously through the jungle. His excellent siting and control enabled the platoon to engage an alert enemy party at close range. The enemy survivors of the initial engagement took cover and returned fire. After a fierce firelight the enemy soldiers fled leaving one of their members firing from an almost inaccessible position. After placing a machine gun to give covering fire, Sergeant Sandford ran forward under fire to a position from where he could throw a grenade and, at great risk to himself, killed the remaining enemy soldier.

On 9th April 1969 Sergeant Sandford was again in command of 1 Platoon when it engaged a strong enemy party. He moved forward to the section most closely engaged and as he arrived in this section’s area the enemy threw a grenade, which landed close to several members of the section. Unhesitatingly Sergeant Sandford leapt forward, picked up the grenade and threw it back at the enemy. This unselfish act was successful. The grenade exploded to the front of the section and Sergeant Sandford and two other soldiers were only lightly wounded. At the conclusion of his action he elected to remain on duty commanding the platoon in spite of his wound.

Throughout his service in South Vietnam Sergeant Sandford distinguished himself as a skilled and courageous soldier, whose personal gallantry was an inspiration to the men under his command.

John had previously served in Malaya during the Emergency. He retired from Army as a highly respected Warrant Officer Class 1.

Rest easy soldier, your duty done.

Victor 3 Company served in Vietnam from May 1968 through to May 1969. It was arguably New Zealand’s most highly decorated sub-unit since WW2. Members were awarded two Military Crosses (one an immediate award); two Distinguished Conduct Medals and a Mentioned in Despatches. In addition our Chaplain attached, Whakahuihui Vercoe (later the Anglican Primate of New Zealand), was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (military).

Written by The Veteran

April 17, 2021 at 7:52 pm

Posted in New Zealand

2 Responses

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  1. An exceptional man and soldier in the great tradition of NZ Arms, land, sea and air.

    And how quickly it has disappeared, in a generation or less ,to be replaced by a frightened, cowered society, afraid of a manufactured “pandemic” hardly different from the common flu.

    A society in decline where the vast majority want something for nothing and are happy to bend the knee so long as it is provided.


    April 17, 2021 at 9:26 pm

  2. I am quite certain that you and your mates never got this sort of respect, and never will. For that I am sorry, and yet grateful

    I am exceedingly obliged to you for this mark of respect. It is said that we have the best Government the world ever knew, and I am glad to meet you, the supporters of that Government. To you who render the hardest work in its support should be given the greatest credit.

    Others who are connected with it, and who occupy high positions, their duties can be dispensed with, but we cannot get along without your aid. While others differ with the Administration, and, perhaps, honestly, the soldiers generally have sustained it; they have not only fought right, but, as far as could be judged from their actions, they have voted right, and I for one thank you for it.

    I know you are en route for the front, and therefore do not expect me to detain you long, and will therefore bid you good morning.

    Abraham Lincoln speaking to a soldier in the 189th New York Volunteers in1864.

    Tom Hunter

    April 17, 2021 at 9:47 pm

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