Friends and family gather to remember fallen soldier
Before Stuart Ellwood fought in Vietnam, he was a laid-back 20-year-old who liked playing pool with his friends and taking his motorbike for a spin in Foxton.
His family recall Ellwood finding an empty bathtub with his friends on the beach. They sailed out in the tide, with one keeping the plughole closed, one with an oar and the other bailing water.
His sister Ngaire Newland said her fun-loving brother planned to be back in New Zealand in time for his 21st birthday. But, on February 6, 1968, Ellwood was killed in Vietnam.
He was one of 37 Kiwis who died in the long-running war.
On Tuesday, dozens gathered at the Foxton cemetery to remember a brother, comrade and friend.
‘‘It is difficult to believe that 50 years have passed since the day our family learned Stuart had been killed and we would never see him or hear his voice ever again,’’ Newland said.
The family had several gatherings to remember Ellwood, but Tuesday’s was the last organised one, she said.
Members of the New Zealand Defence Force, representatives from Horowhenua District Council, the Returned and Services’ Association and the police came to honour the fallen soldier.
Newland said she was grateful for the support her family received over the years and for those who attended the cer- emony brother.
‘‘He was my big brother and I adored him.’’
He was a laid-back man with a great sense of humour, and was loyal to his family and friends, Newland said.
In 1966, he joined the army and he planned on joining the police upon his return from Vietnam.
‘‘We were absolutely shattered when the Foxton Police came to our door in Cook St and told our father that Stuart had been killed that day,’’ Newland said.
Lieutenant Tony Howell, who fought alongside Ellwood in the Victor 2 Company, said Ellwood was an experienced gunner who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ellwood and comrade Barry Toohill stopped on the way to Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City. They were ambushed by the Northern Vietnamese and Ellwood suffered a fatal wound to the chest. to remember left behind her six
Stuart Ellwood in Vietnam.