18 Jun 2012

NZ officer 'changed the US army'

7:48 pm on 18 June 2012

A United States Army leader says a New Zealand veteran - who was today presented with a Legion of Merit medal - changed the US Army with a leadership manual he put together.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Mullane received the medal 33 years after it was first recommended for work he did over two years at Fort Benning in Georgia.

He returned to New Zealand in 1979, but it was discovered recently that the paperwork had never been processed at the Pentagon.

He says he'd almost written the award off, thinking the US army was too big a machine to pursue the medal, and he's blown away that it followed through.

US Army Maj Gen. Roger Matthews says the Legion of Merit, the sixth highest US military award, is rarely awarded, but Lt Col. Mullane's service had a lasting impact.

"His expertise produce a manual, that lives today, that changed our army," said Maj Gen Matthews. "Coming out of Vietnam ... there was a whole level of effort to rachet-up leadership and the importance of it in our organisations".