Taranaki born and bred part time soldier honoured by Queen
1 June 2009
Taranaki born and bred Simon Strombom ,who now lives in Wellington, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD) for his exemplary service with the New Zealand Army Reserve in Afghanistan in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Major Strombom (OH 08-0020-05).
“It’s fantastic to receive this award but also very humbling. I was fortunate to be able to serve on a deployment like this. 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," said Simon.
In 2008 Simon took six months leave from his job at the Ministry of Health to deploy to Kabul, Afghanistan as a Liaison Officer between NATO forces and the Afghan Government as part of the New Zealand 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," said Simon.
“It was easy for me to pack up and deploy because I was very focused on my job in Kabul but it places a great strain on the families who remain behind.
“Knowing I had such strong support in New Zealand was crucial and my family and my employer were phenomenal. My managers at the Ministry of Health were extremely supportive and knowing that I had their backing while I was away meant I had one less thing to worry about and ensured I could give my role in Kabul total focus.
“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”, said Simon.
Simon joined the Army in 1995 and has deployed operationally twice, to a peace support mission in the Sinai in 2004 and in 2008 to Kabul. Simon is the Officer Commanding B Company 7th Wellington (City of Wellington’s Own) and Hawkes Bay Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, based in Trentham.
In addition to his Army Reserve Service Simon is also a member of the Titahi Bay Volunteer Fire Brigade, helps out with coaching duties for a junior rugby team and as a former surf life saver, enjoys working with trainee life guards at the Titahi Bay Surf Life Saving Club.
For more information please contact Bas Bolyn, Media Adviser (Army) on 04 496 0285 or 021 478 574.
Major Strombom joined the Territorial Force of the New Zealand Army in 2000 and since then has temporarily transferred to the Regular Force on two occasions to undertake operational deployments; the second being from April to October 2008 when he served as a Liaison Officer in the Civil Military Co-operation Branch of the International Stabilisation Assistance Force (ISAF) Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. 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. He was proactive and effective in the way he established and maintained relationships with Ministers of the Afghani government.
He also implemented changes to meet the prevailing high Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat environment, developing special utility vehicle armoured standard operating procedures, which became a bench mark of best practice for the entire ISAF Headquarters.
He also extended these efforts to include counter IED training for all in theatre personnel, including those attached to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province. In addition to his daily liaison duties in the Civil Military Co-operation Branch, he also stepped up to conduct a wide range of New Zealand mission tasks over an exceptionally busy summer rotation. These additional tasks often required considerable time-consuming planning given the threat environment. 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.