28 Oct 2010

Vietnam War vet John Masters dies

8:58 pm on 28 October 2010

John Masters, a decorated New Zealand soldier who fought in the Vietnam War has died. He was 75.

Mr Masters rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and is credited with gaining official recognition of the effects of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange on soldiers, which he was exposed to while in Vietnam.

The chemical has been linked to cancer and other birth defects.

In 1965, he received a Military Cross for bravery during the Malaysian Indonesian Confrontation and this year was made the inaugural Anzac of the Year.

Earlier this year, Mr Masters said he felt he had to act to help his comrades.

"I was a commander in Vietnam and so I was older than the 18, 19, 20-year-old soldiers whom I served with. So, nowadays, to see them in their 50s and 60s dying of cancer when they're far, far too young to die - it's a tremendous sense of loss."

Mr Masters died on Thursday morning and is survived by his wife Alisoun and three children.