Recipients of the New Zealand Gallantry Medal
Squadron Leader (then Flight Lieutenant) Benjamin Mark PRYOR (R1001757), Royal New Zealand Air Force - dates of acts: 22 April 2012 and 23 May 2012; location of acts: Afghanistan; year of award: 2013
Staff Sergeant (then Acting Warrant Officer Class Two) Dean Maurice RENNIE (D993143), Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (The Duke of York’s Own) (Retired) - years of acts: 2010-2011; location of acts: Afghanistan; year of award: 2013
One member of the 1st New Zealand Special Air Service Group - year of acts: 2004; location of acts: Afghanistan; year of award: 2007
Corporal Gerald Stewart FENTON (K55577), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment - New Year's Honours List 2005
On 10 August 2000, Corporal Fenton was attached to a Nepalese platoon in East Timor, as a Signaller. While carrying out a patrol on the border between East and West Timor, part of the platoon came under fire from a militia group and sustained casualties. The Nepalese platoon commander immediately responded by moving the remainder of the patrol towards the contact site. As this was taking place, they too came under fire. As the only English-speaking signaller on the scene, Corporal Fenton provided the crucial communications link to both the Battalion Headquarters and to the helicopters called in to evacuate the Nepalese casualties. That this evacuation was successfully completed, was in no small part due to the effective communications maintained by Corporal Fenton.
Despite the immediate threat to his life during this incident, Corporal Fenton remained focused on his job. He remained in close proximity to an English-speaking officer, so that he could obtain information quickly and relay it immediately to New Zealand and Australian operational staff of the Battalion. Throughout the incident, the language barrier made his personal safety precarious and also made his task much more difficult to carry out.
Corporal Fenton showed considerable courage and presence of mind throughout this incident and carried out his duties in a thoroughly professional manner.
Squadron Leader (then Flight Lieutenant) Benjamin Mark PRYOR (R1001757), Royal New Zealand Air Force - Special Honours List 20 April 2013
During April and May 2012, Squadron Leader Pryor (then in the rank of Flight Lieutenant) served as a helicopter pilot on secondment to the Royal Air Force in support of the British Forces in Afghanistan.
On 22 April 2012, Squadron Leader Pryor was captain of the lead aircraft (a Chinook medium-lift helicopter) of an eight-ship aviation assault with the Special Forces Support Group. During a complex multi-ship formation landing in very challenging environmental conditions, with almost-zero visibility at times, his aircraft came under intense enemy fire. Squadron Leader Pryor abandoned his initial approach after his aircraft was hit three times in the vicinity of the cockpit, but elected to make a second approach in order to get his troops onto the ground in support of their colleagues. Showing remarkable courage in the face of extreme danger, he landed the aircraft in the same area and effected the safe disembarkation of his troops whilst directing effective suppressive fire from the aircraft’s weapon system.
During May 2012 Squadron Leader Pryor took part in a number of casualty evacuation missions. One in particular took place on 23 May 2012, when he was required to conduct the emergency evacuation of a casualty who had suffered a traumatic gunshot wound to the neck during a fire-fight in the Green Zone of the Southern Helmand province. While the casualty was being prepared for evacuation, the Chinook came under heavy enemy fire at the emergency landing site. Despite this, Squadron Leader Pryor kept the aircraft on the ground until the medical team was able to recover the casualty onto the aircraft. After informing the crew of his intentions, he directed the number two crewman to engage with the enemy with one of the aircraft’s weapon systems. While still under sustained fire, Squadron Leader Pryor extracted the aircraft from the landing site, and returned the casualty to the safety of medical facilities at Camp Bastion. This was the second time in as many months that Squadron Leader Pryor had displayed calmness, courage, and professionalism in a situation of intense pressure and while under enemy fire.
Related media statement on the presentation of the New Zealand Gallantry Medal:
- 5 November 2013 - Gallantry Award for Auckland Air Force Pilot
Staff Sergeant (then Acting Warrant Officer Class Two) Dean Maurice RENNIE (D993143), Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (The Duke of York’s Own) (Retired) - Special Honours List 20 April 2013
From October 2010 to April 2011, Staff Sergeant Rennie (then in the acting rank of Warrant Officer Class Two) served in Afghanistan in the Combined Explosive Exploitation Cell at Regional Command-East situated at the Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost Province. He was the only non-US serviceperson attached to the US Brigade that operated from this base. This was Staff Sergeant Rennie’s second tour in Afghanistan.
Staff Sergeant Rennie was heavily involved in dismounted patrols supporting special coalition task forces deployed from the Base in searches of high risk compounds. His particular role was to provide advice on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and, where a device had been activated, to determine its type, construction, and means of initiation, from the results of the explosion and the recovered components. He attended many incidents of this type and often came under enemy fire. From the information he gathered on these patrols, which included over 450 individual pieces of evidence, he was able to identify individual builders of IEDs by their different construction methods, and the different patterns of placing these devices. This intelligence led to the detention and prosecution of many insurgents for possession of illegal weapons and IED construction materials, and the lessons learned were able to be shared throughout the theatre.
Staff Sergeant Rennie frequently took part in route clearing patrols. These dangerous missions were specifically designed to locate and deal with IEDs, and on numerous occasions his patrol was struck by these devices or came under direct fire from insurgents. In one of the most active IED environments in the world, and in one of the most dangerous appointments in the theatre, Staff Sergeant Rennie constantly placed himself at risk in order to protect Coalition forces and local civilians, and to disseminate potentially life-saving intelligence about insurgent operations in Afghanistan.
Warrant Officer Class Two Denis Joachim WANIHI (D771492), Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (The Duke of York's Own) - Special Honours List 1 October 2011
Warrant Officer Class Two Wanihi (then in acting rank) served in Afghanistan during 2010 in a supervisory role with a multi-national team dealing with and responding to incidents involving Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and Explosive Ordnance Devices (EOD) in Khowst and Patika provinces. He received, processed and shipped evidence for over 259 IED incidents that occurred in these provinces and participated in over 30 Focused Targeting Force operations, involving joint ventures with Special Operations Force units. As a site exploitation expert, he was responsible for the recovery of evidence that was used to implicate insurgents detained on operations. Part way through his tour, a United States colleague with whom he had been sharing responsibilities was withdrawn. By working extremely long hours, he managed to continue to provide the same standard of service that was expected. On 28 August 2010, he was with a team that responded to the discovery of a vehicle in which an IED had been placed for use in an attack against Forward Operating Base Salerno. The vehicle was located in a high density housing area and posed an imminent threat to both Coalition Forces and the local population. He was involved in neutralising the threat. On the same day, he provided assistance to members of two other EOD teams to recover and dismantle 12 suicide vests worn by insurgents. The insurgents had been killed before they were able to detonate their vests. This operation provided useful intelligence on the working components of the vests and how best to deal with them in any future encounters. On 19 September 2010, he was the EOD vehicle gunner on a route clearance patrol to Bak District; this particular patrol often encounters small arms fire and indirect fire, as well as numerous IED finds or detonations. After 14 hours spent patrolling, his vehicle came to a sudden stop when an IED was spotted within two metres of the left rear of the vehicle. He quickly scanned for threat elements and reported the potential danger to the patrol commander, who then made the decision to discontinue the patrol and to return to Forward Operating Base Salerno.
Warrant Officer Class Two Wanihi as a member of the Counter-IED team, 717th EOD Company, carried out his duties in a high threat environment. Many of the IEDs he encountered were notoriously volatile and he was exposed to stressful and dangerous situations on a regular basis.
Photo of the presentation of the New Zealand Gallantry Medal: See 7 September 2012 - Governor-General presents Awards to New Zealand Defence Force personnel
year of acts: 2004; location of acts: Afghanistan.
- For security reasons, the name of the recipient of the New Zealand Gallantry Medal has not been released by the New Zealand Government.
- This NZGM was awarded for 'gallantry and the application of firm and timely leadership'.
- The 2 July 2007 media statement announcing this award can be viewed here.
This page was last reviewed 6 January, 2014 and is current.