Monday, June 14, 2021

NZDF personnel honoured for White Island efforts

The leadership, skills and professionalism of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel involved in the Whakaari White Island response have been acknowledged by the Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force through the announcement of a number of awards.

The Whakaari White Island volcanic eruption on 9 December 2019, claimed the lives of 22 people and seriously injured 25.

“The actions of those members of the New Zealand Defence Force involved with the victim recovery operation showed great courage and determination to retrieve those that perished on the island,” said Air Marshal Short.

The New Zealand Defence Force deployed personnel from the Royal New Zealand Navy, Royal New Zealand Air Force and New Zealand Army to respond alongside other agencies to the emergency situation, and were successfully able to reunite the remains of six victims with their families.

Nine members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron (EOD) were deployed on the volcano four days after the eruption to recover the victims that had succumbed to the deadly effects of the initial eruption.

Air Marshal Short said they each displayed courage and determination as they faced extreme conditions whilst wearing cumbersome protective equipment that caused them to fatigue quickly.

“Their efforts played a critical role in the success of the operation.”

These members have been awarded seven Defence Meritorious Service Medals and two CDF Commendations.

Additionally, one member of the EOD Squadron who supported those who deployed on the volcano has been awarded an NZDF Commendation.

Air Marshal Short said he was pleased to announce the awards of the Defence Meritorious Service Medal, Chief of Defence Force Commendation and New Zealand Defence Force Commendation to those members of the New Zealand Defence Force who contributed to the success of the victim recovery operation.

The recipients are:

Recipient of the Defence Meritorious Service Medal:

FLTLT Hamish Reichardt                   

Recipients of a Chief of Defence Force Commendation:

SGT Phillip Delaney

FLTLT Loic Ifrah

SGT Jennifer HartL

SCS Joseph Campbell

LSCS Reyne Hepi

LHSO Stephen Lofthouse

LTCDR Timothy Hall

Recipients of a New Zealand Defence Force Commendation:

DR Sophie Walker                             

SQNLDR Christopher Ross

LTCOL Charmaine Tate

HMNZS Wellington

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