How long is it going to take for the Government to formally recognise those of us who were honoured with the United States Antarctic Service Medal and are not allowed to wear it ?

The Reply from the NZ Defence Force

Regarding service in Antarctica, such service does not meet the normal criteria for recognition by the award of a medal.  Service in Antarctica would not be recognised by the New Zealand Government simply because that service has (already) been recognised by another government.

OK, so now we have the view of the New Zealand Defence Force as to why we will not be allowed to wear the US Antarctic Service Medal at any time in the very near future.  Taking a completely different tact, let us now look at the criteria laid out by the New Zealand Government for the recently struck NEW ZEALAND SPECIAL SERVICE MEDAL The criteria reads as follows:

The medal will recognise service to New Zealand in very difficult, adverse, extreme, or hazardous circumstances.  Such service often involves risk (whether physical, environmental, or psychological) similar to operational service, without fitting the criteria of operational service

As you can see, one does not nead a degree in rocket science to realise that service in Antarctica fullfils all of the above criteria, and is dovetailed for such an award.  However the pencil sharpeners in the New Zealand Defence Force and the Government are totally unaware of just how dangerous things are down there at the bottom of the world.  I loaded a body box myself on one occassion. 

Next, rather than seek the exact same award as the sailors who took part in the nuclear testing, we simply request a change of ribbon colour, not dissimilar to what is used for the Australian Antarctic Service Medal.  This is not a major problem as our Minister of  Defence has already announced that the New Zealand General Service Medal is going to be awarded with different ribbons instead of different bars

As an aside there is already a Polar medal, with a white ribbon, which is generally only awarded to specific high profile expeditions.  So we are not asking for anything that has already been recognuised by the Polar Medal.

If we are to be awarded the NZ Special Service Medal there nead to be rules.  We have gone for the following:-
- 7 days on the Ice as part of a unit stationed there
- 7 days in specified waters for ships (In our case , South of 60 degrees S)
- 15 flights as part of the aircrew of military aircraft
- 30 days accumulated for official visitors


Please onsend a link to this site to as many Kiwi soliers, Sailors, and Airmenas you know who have served in Antarctica, and from there we can put together a nominal roll of all Kiwi personnel who have served on the Ice.  The places they served and the appoinmtments they held.  Email me with details.

I am in absolutely no doubt that if we all get organised enough and vocal enough then we will certainly have our service granted official recognition.  Don't forget, VXE-6 Squadron lost about 50 men down on the ice, and New Zealand lost Tom Couzens, Jeremy Sykes,  Garth Varcoe, and Terry Newport

What we did down there on the frozen wastes was "Special Service" and it is about time that our special service was recognised ..... we were not down there playing golf !

Don Kerr
Antarctic Veteran


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