New Zealand Red Cross worker killed in Vietnam

12 March 1975

Mac Riding, 1975 (Leonie Clent, NZ Red Cross)

Returning from leave in Laos, 30-year-old Malcolm ‘Mac’ Riding was aboard an Air Vietnam DC4 when it crashed 25 km from his Red Cross team’s compound near Pleiku, South Vietnam.

The plane crashed into territory controlled by the National Liberation Front (NLF), which made it difficult for investigators to get to the crash site. This also made it complicated to determine the cause. Eyewitness accounts saw the plane trailing smoke and attempting to land at an airstrip before pulling up and crashing. Subsequent reports indicated that it had fallen victim to a heat-seeking missile. Riding’s body has never been found.

British-born but New Zealand-educated, Riding was an optical engineer and former relieving lighthouse keeper who had spent time in the Peruvian Andes and Antarctica. He arrived in Vietnam with the Red Cross in 1973 and became leader of the organisation’s sixth welfare team in September 1974. In 2003 Riding was awarded the New Zealand Operational Service Medal for his services to the Red Cross. 

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