Veterans young and old laid wreaths for those who had passed.
Veterans young and old laid wreaths for those who had passed. Alistair Brightman

GALLERY: Veterans pay tribute to Vietnam sacrifices

LAYING a wreath down for his comrades at the Vietnam Veterans Day, Tony Howell still remembers the smell of gunpowder and explosives that fateful night in February 7, 1968.

Then a Lieutenant Colonel serving in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment during the Vietnam War, his company came under attack by an enemy force estimated to be in the thousands.

During the dawn raid, the Australian and New Zealand forces were pelted with shrapnel from the rockets and bullets fired by the Viet Cong.

"The air was thick with bullets and shrapnel,” Mr Howell told the Chronicle.

"Anything above us hit the trees, the rockets kept on exploding, the idea was to try and inflict casualties on us.

"The first wave of the attack was beaten off, then they tried to flank us - at one stage we were being attacked on three sides.”

Mr Howell described it as one of the most intense fights by a New Zealand company at the time.

On Saturday, he commemorated veterans past and present for their service during the war at the remembrance day in Hervey Bay.

"10 of us flew over from New Zealand, so it's still important that we get together and remember what happened during that war,” Mr Howell said.