Last Kiwi Vietnam vet retires

  • 10/03/2017
V4 Coy - Gordon Benfell is standing sixth from left (NZ Defence Force/supplied)
V4 Coy - Gordon Benfell is standing sixth from left (NZ Defence Force/supplied)

The Army's sole remaining Regular Force veteran of the Vietnam War, Major Gordon Benfell, is retiring after 52 years of service.

Maj Benfell, who will be farewelled at a dinner in Waiouru on Friday night, joined just before he turned 15.

He spent three years as a Regular Force cadet, graduating as a Lance Corporal.

At 18, he was a weapons instructor at the Training Wing of the First Battalion Depot, then started training for deployment to Vietnam.

He served in Phouc Touy province with V Coy 6RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion of the 1st Australian Task Force and was the youngest Anzac section commander of the Vietnam War.

He later served in East Timor and Afghanistan.

Maj Benfell, 68, holds the Queen's Medal as an Army champion shot and was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007.

Although leaving the Regular Force, he is becoming a reservist and will advocate for former soldiers in a private capacity.

"I believe our soldiers have always been as good as any anywhere, and better than most," he said.

"New Zealand is so well served by its Defence Force and can be rightly proud of its service people."

NZN