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NZ Defence Force Personnel Named in NY Honours List

31 December 2014

Five NZ Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have been named in the New Year Honours 2014.

The recipients are as follows:

To receive the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD):

Warrant Officer Marine Technician (Propulsion) David Tale HAMILL
Royal New Zealand Navy
Based at Devonport

Captain Andrew Ross McKINLAY
Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery
Based in Wellington

Major Michael NOCHETE
Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers
Based at Burnham

Flight Sergeant Murray John THOMSON
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Based at Whenuapai



The Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD) recognises distinguished military service by Regular, Territorial and Reserve members of the NZDF, including command and leadership and service in an operational environment, or in support of operations.



To receive the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD):

HAMILL, Warrant Officer Marine Technician (Propulsion) David Tale
Royal New Zealand Navy

As the Marine Engineering Warrant Officer on board HMNZS TE MANA, Warrant Officer Hamill was responsible for the management and operation of the marine engineering department.  He rendered outstanding service in this role from August 2013 to March 2014, firstly in achieving the highest readiness grading possible in the ship’s intensive pre-deployment work-ups, and subsequently during its deployment on anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden.

His commitment to engineering excellence engendered a superior level of performance in his department that has facilitated the identification of solutions to engineering problems which, due to the ship’s age, more often than not required careful consideration of equipment obsolescence, long lead times for replacement parts and remote support from shore.  A critical example of this during the anti-piracy deployment was the way in which he dealt with a major fault that developed in the cooling systems for one of the main diesel propulsion units.  With this engine out of commission, the ship was required to run on its gas turbine engines, seriously affecting its range and endurance and putting the entire operation at risk.  After a temporary repair failed, Warrant Officer Hamill traced the cause of the fault to alignment and vibration problems with the coolant pipe-work.  Replacement pipe-work was modified to eliminate recurrence of the problems, and the ship was able to continue its mission.

During the deployment, Warrant Officer Hamill also carried out a self-maintenance period in Darwin that saw significant modifications being made to some of the diesel engine systems, and succeeded in finding remedies to a number of long-term maintenance problems that had defeated his predecessors.  His technical skill, outstanding leadership and perseverance were critical to HMNZS TE MANA’s ability to reach the operational area off the coast of Africa, to remain on station, and to complete all its operational tasks.

To receive the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD):

McKINLAY, Captain Andrew Ross
Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery

In the early months of 2014, Acting Major McKinlay was serving as a Military Liaison Officer (MLO) with the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) at the Malakal State Support Base in Upper Nile State.  Inside the base were approximately 28,000 Internally Displaced Persons from a variety of South Sudanese tribal groups.  There was significant antipathy between some of these tribes and there was little physical separation between them within the base.

On the night of 17 February 2014 fighting broke out among the groups within the base and continued through to dawn on the 18th.  It resumed later that day when significant fighting, including tank and mortar fire, broke out between Government of South Sudan forces (SPLA) and anti-Government forces in the area.  The fighting inside the base reached levels not seen during the previous night with a considerable number of deaths among those taking part.  The MLOs were attacked on a number of occasions while attempting to evacuate casualties to the hospital, and Major McKinlay had to draw his pistol on more than one occasion to protect fellow UN staff and UN contractors who were seeking shelter with himself and a Swedish MLO.  During this period he also sustained a number of minor injuries, caused while grabbing weapons off rioters and attempting to stop a number of beatings taking place around him.

After the fighting died down, Major McKinlay resumed his normal MLO duties, which meant going outside the base to talk to Government and rebel commanders.  He did this despite knowing that these men had little control over their own troops and that there was a real risk of unprovoked attacks from either side.  He also continued to volunteer himself for patrols from the base to Malakal township and assisted in the recovery of bodies from inside the base, despite the high level of tension that still existed between the tribal groupings and the death threats some of them had made against the MLOs.

The task of protecting civilians within the base during the violence of 17-19 February had fallen to the MLOs due to the absence of other UN troops and police units.  Though not equipped for such a task, the MLOs at Malakal, including Major McKinlay, had acted with exceptional courage and had managed to contain the situation.

To receive the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD):

NOCHETE, Major Michael
Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers

In the early months of 2014, Major Nochete was serving as a Military Liaison Officer (MLO) with the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) at the town of Bor, situated on the White Nile to the north of the capital, Juba.  During the national crisis of December 2013 – February 2014, control of Bor changed hands between Government and rebel forces five times and there was a general reluctance among UN staff to return to the area.  Major Nochete was one of the few UN staffers to volunteer to return and while waiting for flights into the town to resume, he sought work within the UN Force Headquarters where his knowledge of Bor, Jonglei Province, and the key Government and rebel commanders in the area proved invaluable to the UN planning staff.

On returning to Bor, in the absence of trained UN staff, he assumed responsibility for the management of all air movements of UNMISS, UN Humanitarian Air Service and international aid agency flights in and out of the area.  He oversaw the prioritisation and evacuation of hundreds of personnel, including critical casualties, UN staff, and international and internally displaced persons.  The final estimate was that he personally oversaw the evacuation of over 2,000 people.  He carried out this duty throughout the many changeovers of control of the town, and often with weapons pointed at him and stray rounds hitting the ground around him.  In addition to the demanding movements role, Major Nochete also led the first operation to recover and bury the large number of bodies that had accumulated in and around the Bor County State Base; and through his personal example encouraged troops from other nations to assist him with this unpleasant task.

At the same time he continued to carry out his normal MLO duties, working effectively with senior military commanders from both Government and rebel forces.  He also led patrols to recover much-needed medical supplies from local hospitals for use by UN humanitarian agencies and to conduct assessments of sites for use as UN storage and distribution facilities.  The fact that he conducted these tasks regardless of which side controlled Bor at any given time, and while the threat of attack was always a possibility, highlights the level of courage and commitment Major Nochete displayed throughout the crisis.

To receive the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD):

THOMSON, Flight Sergeant Murray John
Royal New Zealand Air Force

Flight Sergeant Thomson has served as an Aircraft Technician with the Naval Support Flight for the past 12 years.  He is one of only a few technicians at his rank level who hold Delegated Engineering Authority, that is the authority to determine the technical airworthiness of the aircraft in his care.  Since 2012 he has been the Senior Maintenance Rating on board HMNZS TE MANA with total responsibility for the operational availability of the ship’s Seasprite helicopter.  Consequently, he had a significant influence on the operational capability of TE MANA during her recent deployment to the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden where she conducted anti-piracy operations as part of a NATO Task Force.  In this role, he worked tirelessly to ensure that the members of his team were a fully-functioning element of the ship’s company with key roles to play as part of the damage control and emergency management teams on board.  He also ensured that the aircraft was maintained at the highest level of operational serviceability and that his department was fully prepared to carry out the air support programme.  As a result of his efforts the air component on board made an important contribution to the ship’s work-up and testing programme prior to deployment, and once on station, the Seasprite was able to successfully complete 95 per cent of assigned air support missions in support of the Task Force despite frequent operational programme changes.

Flight Sergeant Thomson’s service to naval aviation since joining No 6 Squadron in 2002 has been exceptional and goes beyond that which could reasonably be expected from a person of his rank.  He is the epitome of the experienced, professional and proficient team leader, and without his dedication and professionalism, HMNZS TE MANA would not have been able to achieve the significant level of contribution to the Combined Task Force, and to NATO, that it did during its deployment.

To receive the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD):


Serviceman B demonstrated distinguished service across several operations in Afghanistan in 2011, contributing to the protection of comrades and civilian life, putting their wellbeing ahead of his own under hazardous circumstances.  Serviceman B’s exceptional devotion to duty was in keeping with the finest traditions of New Zealand’s military record.


For further information please contact the Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.

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