Twenty-four New Zealand Army engineers arrive in Saigon as a token of that country’s support for the American effort in South Vietnam. The contingent was part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist other nations to support the American cause in South Vietnam by sending military aid and troops. The level of support was not the primary issue; Johnson wanted to portray international solidarity and consensus for U.S. policies in Southeast Asia and he believed that participation by a number of countries would achieve that end. The effort was also known as the “many flags” program.
In June 1965, New Zealand increased their commitment to the war with the arrival of the Royal New Zealand Artillery’s 161st Battery. Two rifle companies from the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment arrived in South Vietnam in 1967 along with a platoon from New Zealand’s commando force, the Special Air Service. These New Zealand forces were integrated with the forces of the Australian Task Force and operated with them in Phuoc Tuy Province, southeast of Saigon along the coast. In 1971, New Zealand withdrew its military forces from South Vietnam.