17 Sep 2010

Vietnam war hero Morrie Stanley dies

8:28 pm on 17 September 2010

New Zealand war hero Morrie Stanley, credited with saving more than 100 Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War, has died. He was 79.

Mr Stanley died peacefully on Thursday after a short battle with cancer at his home in Campbells Bay on Auckland's North Shore.

Earlier this year, he received an Australian award for gallantry during the Battle of Long Tan in August 1966.

He achieved the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was made a Member of Order of the British Empire for his actions.

Born in Christchurch in 1931, Mr Stanley grew up in Napier and joined the army in 1949. He became an instructor at Waiouru and served in various command positions.

Mr Stanley, a member of the Royal New Zealand Artillery, made his name when sent as a captain to Vietnam.

The 34-year old was one of three New Zealanders posted to an Australian army battalion regiment and kept the enemy at bay as he directed artillery fire down on to them in the battle's crucial hours.

Martin Walsh, who produced the documentary Battle of Long Tan, says Mr Stanley guided the artillery in the near-impossible situation of being outnumbered 20-to-1 in a monsoonal lightning storm.

Mr Walsh says he wishes Mr Stanley's actions were more widely known because he was crucial to the survival of the regiment.

Morrie Stanley is survived by his wife Alva and two sons.