Liaison work in Kabul honoured

A six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan has seen a former Taranaki man receive a Distinguished Service Decoration in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Major Simon Strombom received the award for exemplary service in Kabul as a liaison officer between Nato forces and the Afghan Government in 2008.

"He worked tirelessly throughout his tour to meet the many challenges presented, applying himself with great energy and focus, earning the confidence and respect of all he worked with," his citation reads.

"He was proactive and effective in the way he established and maintained relationships with Ministers of the Afghani government. In the conduct of his duties, he displayed the highest standard of leadership and duty of care responsibility, inspiring those around him to similar standards."

Maj Strombom joined the army in 1995 and became a member of the Territorial Force in 2000.

He has twice served operationally, the first time being a deployment to a peace support mission in Sinai in 2004.

He took leave from his regular job at the Ministry of Health to go to Kabul in 2008 as part of New Zealand's contribution to the Nato-led International Stabilisation Assistance Force.

"The job was fantastic but Kabul is a dangerous place and it is exhausting wearing 25kg of personal equipment in 50 degree heat every day and remaining alert and focused," Maj Strombom said.

"It's fantastic to receive this award but also very humbling.

"Going away can place a huge strain on work and home life and I was extremely fortunate to have great support from my employer and my family.

" If I didn't have that support I would not have been able to deploy and certainly not perform the role I did.

"This award will be worn by me, but it belongs to them."

Maj Strombom is the Officer Commanding B Company, 7th Wellington and Hawke's Bay Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, based in Trentham.

Taranaki Daily News