The Grey Ghosts are New Zealand’s Vietnam veterans. Their powerful story includes chilling accounts of death, injuries and emotional breakdown, along with the intense comradeship of soldiering, and a pervasive sense of humour that is uniquely our own.
Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah Challinor interviewed 50 men who served in Vietnam, who speak out about ‘fragging’ (killing superior officers), the New Zealand Government’s role in Agent Orange and chemical exposure, and the hostile reception they received when they returned. The result is compelling, reliving the Vietnam experience in vivid detail.
First published in 1998, this updated edition includes new material on the subsequent handling of veterans’ claims, and the reconciliation parade on Queen’s Birthday Weekend in 2008, when the men were finally welcomed home.
…Are 50 New Zealand Vietnam veterans who very generously shared with me their memories of their service in Vietnam. Those memories went into my Ph.D. thesis, which became, after some modification, this book. Both the Ph.D. and the book are about how some Vietnam veterans remember the war, not about what specifically happened during the war. Two quite different subjects.
‘Challinor…takes a close, sympathetic but objective look at New Zealand’s involvement in the Vietnam War, relating events through the eyes of Kiwis who were there – and who later suffered the humiliation and indignity of being ignored by their own successive Governments and often repudiated by the public at large. It’s the insight, the anecdotes, the stark reality of life on the battlefields and in the villages and cities of Vietnam, and the Kiwis’ relationships with other Allied forces and the local population, that makes this book so interesting and readable.’
Waikato Times, April 2009