07 December 2011
Gallantry awards were presented to three New Zealand soldiers by the Governor General, the Right Honourable Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae at a ceremony in Wellington on 6 December.
Gallantry Award recipients (L-R): Lance Corporal Allister Baker RNZIR, New Zealand Gallantry Decoration; Corporal Albert Moore RNZIR, New Zealand Gallantry Star; and Corporal Matthew Ball RNZSigs, New Zealand Gallantry Decoration (20111206_WN_S1015650_0008).
The three soldiers, Corporal Albert Moore, Corporal Matthew Ball and Lance Corporal Allister Baker were in a vehicle patrol attacked by insurgents in Afghanistan in August 2010. Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell was killed in the attack.
CPL Moore, currently a Section Commander with 2nd/Ist Battalion, was awarded the NZ Gallantry Star for gallantry shown in the incident. CPL Ball, currently a Communication System Operator based in Waiouru, and Lance Corporal Allister Baker (now a heavy machinegun gunner with 2nd/1st Battalion) were awarded the NZ Gallantry Decoration for their actions during the same incident.
The family of LT O'Donnell attended the ceremony at Government House. Also in attendance were the Minister of Defence, Dr Wayne Mapp, the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, Chief of Army, Major General Tim Keating, and the soldiers' Commanding Officer in Afghanistan, Colonel John Boswell.
Friends and family members watched as Sir Jerry spoke to each soldier, and pinned their medals.
Sir Jerry said the investiture was a special, bittersweet occasion.
"Your actions relate to gallantry on operations, and stem from an incident that resulted in the tragic and untimely death of LT O'Donnell. They represent Courage, Comradeship, Commitment and Integrity to a very high level. You displayed all four of those qualities in that harrowing incident."
He said the three soldiers displayed exemplary commitment to their mission, and the highest levels of courage, comradeship and integrity.
"Each of you placed your own lives at risk to look after your mates in arms. And the outcome (of the incident) could have been very different had it not been for the qualities instilled in you by LT O'Donnell. You demonstrated gallantry, comradeship and distinguished service beyond your call of duty."
LT O'Donnell's father, Mark O'Donnell said after the ceremony that he "wouldn't have missed the investiture for the world."
"My wife Maryann was crying with pride as she watched those three boys standing there. They have become like family. And seeing the Governor General, the Chief of Defence Force and John Boswell again is like being back with friends." (Note: Sir Jerry was Chief of Defence Force when the incident happened)
Mr O'Donnell, a former policeman, has visited the area in Afghanistan where the incident took place. "I am now at peace with the situation. Obviously I'm not happy that Tim died, but I'm very proud and happy for these boys. They were all extremely brave."