New Zealanders receive medals for service in Afghanistan and the military
The New Zealand Embassy hosted a medal ceremony for two New Zealanders who received campaign medals for their service on Monday, November 26, 2012 at the New Zealand Ambassador’s Residence.
Richard Prendergast, a career diplomat, received the New Zealand Operational Service Medal ( NZOSM) and the New Zealand General Service Medal (NZGSM - Afghanistan) for his service as the Director of the New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The NZGSM (Afghanistan) was created to honour New Zealand personnel (both military and non-military) who served in Afghanistan from December 2001. The New Zealand Ambassador Rt Hon Mike Moore presented the two medals to Prendergast.
During his acceptance speech, Richard Prendergast spoke about his time as PRT Director, noting the privilege of leading a 250-person, multi-agency and multi-national PRT. He commented on the bravery of the NZDF and the sadness at the recent losses of NZDF personnel; the strong work of the NZ Police and NZ development staff; the charismatic leadership of Bamyan Governor Sarabi; support from US personnel in Bamyan, engagement from Canada (policing) and cooperation with the UK the NZ Embassy is co-located with the British Embassy in Kabul).
“It was an honour to represent New Zealand in Afghanistan. My time as PRT Director was supported by the courage of the NZDF, the inspiration of the Afghan people, the cooperation of the US, and the sacrifices of my wife, Elena,” said Prendergast. “As PRT Director I was struck by the close NZ – US cooperation on the ground in Afghanistan and to the excellent support from the US for the NZPRT,” said Prendergast.
Prendergast recognized the US military and civilian officials in attendance, a number who had operated with him in Afghanistan. He thanked the US military for its funding and equipment support of the NZDF trained Bamyan Afghan National Police Provincial Quick Reaction Force, and USAID and US State Department support for governance and development projects in Bamyan. Prendergast and NZDF Head of Defence Staff AVM Lintott also highlighted that the US provided air support, in hostile conditions, in the emergency medivac in August of wounded NZDF soldiers from North-East Bamyan; and in transit on their return home, these New Zealand Wounded Warriors received world-class medical treatment at the US’ Walter Reed Military Hospital.
Talei Ruby received the New Zealand Defence Force Service medal during this ceremony. This medal, which was instituted in 2011, is reserved for those who have served in the military for three or more years since the end of World War II.