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NZ Red Cross Searching For Two Vietnam Veterans

NEWS RELEASE

21 April 2008


New Zealand Red Cross Searching For Two Vietnam Veterans

As preparations escalate for Tribute 08, a commemoration and reunion for New Zealand Vietnam War veterans being held in Wellington in late May, New Zealand Red Cross is searching for two New Zealand Red Cross aid workers who played a vital role caring for wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War.

During the war two New Zealand Red Cross aid workers, Isobel Beaumont and Avis Wilkes, were deployed to work as welfare support personnel at hospitals in Vung Tau, Vietnam and Changi, Singapore. The pair, the only two New Zealand Red Cross aid workers deployed in this position, were accredited to the New Zealand Army.

On 9 April 1970 Miss Beaumont departed for Vietnam where she worked at the Vung Tau 1st Australian Field Hospital in Vietnam. She carried the rank of Assistant Superintendent and wore a New Zealand Red Cross uniform.

Miss Beaumont was the first ever New Zealand Red Cross aid worker accredited to the New Zealand Army while in the field. Previous aid workers deployed in similar circumstances had been accredited to the Australian Army.

Following a year in Vietnam Miss Beaumont was transferred to Changi Hospital in Singapore and promoted to the rank of Superintendent.
During her two years of service Miss Beaumont was highly regarded by patients and staff, with New Zealand soldiers giving her the nickname ‘Kiwi sister’.

Assistant Superintendent Avis Wilkes was also deployed on behalf on New Zealand Red Cross. Miss Wilkes was based at Vung Tau 1st Australian Field Hospital in Vietnam for five months from June to November 1971.

Both Miss Beaumont and Miss Wilkes are entitled to the General Service Medal with clasp Vietnam and the New Zealand Operational Service Medal. If they can be located in time, their medals could be presented during the Tribute08 commemorations.

New Zealand Red Cross International Operations Manager Andrew McKie says many soldiers who served in Vietnam have fond memories of both women and the Tribute08 commemorations could be a great opportunity for their service to be officially recognised.

ENDS

* Please note that Miss Isobel Beaumont and Miss Avis Wilkes may now have different names through marriage.

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