Linda Tenamu Smith
Linda is Ex NZWRAC and a member of 28 (MAORI) Battalion Association, New Zealand
Referring to the poignant article, “One of Their Own” by Vicki Pierce sent to her by Mike “Subs” Subritzky, Linda Tenamu Smith wrote:
Thanks Subs (Subritzky). Agree very moving and reminds me of time when our KIAs came home. No red carpet treatment for them. Things have changed a bit with our V Force (VIETNAM Force) now; they get some recognition when they pass away; bought back a few bitter memories.
One that lingers with me still is whilst at Defence Tape Relay Centre in Wellington. Started off as a routine day until all hell let loose – nothing uncommon about that; there was me yelling Flash, Flash, Flash. Everything came to a standstill. Then the dreaded signal I hoped I would not have to receive came in. I had received a number of similar signals, but was hoping I wouldn’t receive one like this one that involved anyone close to me.
I knew it was going to be pretty bad because of the Flash/Secret. I stood there checking the tape and that’s when the horror struck I was reading the whole incident report involving Victor 4. KIA TW Paenga, WIA Sgt T Tuhiwai, Cpl TTNO Taukamo, Pte RT Heke and all the other info that trailed it. I just stood there frozen. The tape just running though my fingers and unable to move or say anything.
My mate, Mo had been killed, Tom, Olly and Beau had been wounded, there were others wounded but I can’t remember who they were as I didn’t know them. The sad thing was Mo had just turned 21 on 17 March my turn was 21 March, and he was killed on 19 March. (The ironic thing for me today is 19 March is both a sad and happy day, for it is also Selwyn’s birthday).
Another thing that leaves a bitter memory is that not being a whanau member or spouse etc., I was denied permission to take leave and travel to Gisborne for Mo’s tangi. For years I carried the grief and hurt, until by chance I was able to go to Gisborne and was able to visit Mo’s grave. The last time I was able to visit him was during the 28 Reunion 2002.
I remember, Olly Taukamo telling me, up in Ruatoria about 1967, I should join the army, great career and great mates. He was recuperating from his tour with Victor 1, where he was medivaced home. He is now a member of 28 Bn – Waikato Branch and lives in Wanganui. Comes up here and takes Cam Wells on at golf. Tom Tuhiwai is a member of 28 Bn Heretaunga (Hastings) Branch. Beau Heke passed away in 1998 in Tauranga and is buried at Judea.
©Copyright January 4, 2004 by Linda Tenamu Smith