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15 January 2003

New medal to be awarded for service in Thailand

Hon Mark Burton

New Zealand personnel who served in Thailand between 1962 and 1971 will be eligible for a new medal, Minister of Defence Mark Burton announced today.

“As part of our ongoing work to ensure that our veterans’ outstanding service to New Zealand is properly recognised, this Government has agreed in principle to the institution of the New Zealand General Service Medal (non-warlike) with a ‘Thailand’ clasp.”

In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, Thailand was threatened by both Communist insurgency in the northeast and invasion along the Laos border. As part of an allied response to these threats, New Zealand deployed military forces to Thailand in the period between 1962 and 1971, including RNZAF transport aircraft, an SAS detachment, and Army engineers.

“This new medal will recognise the exceptional service of the 300 New Zealand personnel deployed to Thailand during this period,” said Mark Burton.

The institution of this medal follows last year’s establishment of the New Zealand Operational Service Medal, as well as medals to recognise a variety of other deployments dating back to 1945.

The new medal is still to be manufactured and should be available for issue by the middle of this year.

Background Information

In 1962, three RNZAF Bristol freighters with support personnel and 30 Special Air Service personnel were deployed to northeastern Thailand. They joined forces from the United States, Thailand, Australia and the United Kingdom to prepare against a feared invasion of Thailand from across the Laos border. The crisis was resolved before any invasion was launched.

In 1964 and 1965, a 33-strong New Zealand Army engineering team was deployed to northeast Thailand to assist British and Australian military engineers in the construction of a strategic military airfield at Mukdahan, near the Thai-Laos border. Two RNZAF 41 Squadron Bristol freighters supported the Army engineers throughout this period. The freighters also assisted the United States Strategic Logistic Aid to Thailand (SLAT) programme.

From 1965 to 1971, New Zealand Army engineers were involved in road construction in northeast Thailand. Due to the potential military risk in the area, the project was carried out by military personnel rather than civilians.

Each of these deployments involved service beyond the requirements of peacetime service. The New Zealand General Service Medal with the clasp “Thailand” recognises those deployed in an unstable environment with ongoing risks from insurgency. Approximately 300 people will qualify for the award.

Veterans or their families enquiring about eligibility for the medal should write to:

Staff Officer Medals
Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force
Private Bag 905

Veterans should supply as much of the following details as possible:

Service Number
Service: RNZN, NZ Army, RNZAF or name of other organisation
Full forename(s) and surname
Name of medal being applied for
Details of service that supports the claim.
A minimum of thirty days’ operational service is required for the award of the medal.

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