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Christchurch gives civic award to American

Christchurch gives civic award to American

Mayor Bob Parker with Lt Col James McGann

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Ten years of service to Christchurch saw, for the first time, an American receive a city civic award from the Mayor Bob Parker on Friday

Lt. Col. James McGann, whose latest achievement was landing the giant USAF C-17 aircraft in pitch dark on the ice-covered airfield on Antarctica using night vision goggles, has been stationed in Christchurch for the past 10 years. He is the commander of the New Zealand-based Operation Deep Freeze and mission commander for the C-17 operations since 2005.

"It is a real honour that the Christchurch Civic Award is able to present Jim with a civic award,' says Shirley Johnson, Civic & International Relations Manager with the city council.

"Jim is also one of those people, who despite a hectic schedule, has always had time to help others- Whether it be charity work or just making extra time for new pilots in training - he seems to pick up the extra work with a grin and legendary humour," says Ms Johnson. Lt. Col. James McGann returns to the USA next month.

The award, given out by Mayor Bob Parker at the ceremony marking the start of the Antarctic Festival 2008 held at the Robert McDougall Gallery, "was a chance to thank the American programme for all it contributes to the city, and to thank Lt. Col. McGann in particular as the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander of Operation Deep Freeze in Christchurch."

The Nomination Criteria for the awards states: "Christchurch Civic Awards generally celebrate the work of Christchurch residents but in exceptional circumstances an award may be made to a non-resident, if their work has been done in Christchurch and benefited the city".

Airmen from McChord Air Force Base, Washington, USA, fly supplies to the National Science Foundation research centre in Antarctica as part of Operation Deep Freeze. In between sorties, they demonstrate their appreciation to the community they stage out of, in this case, Christchurch.

The Deep Freeze crews use their off-duty time to raise funds for local charities. In the past three years they have donated thousands of dollars to Christchurch organizations, as well as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Children's Hope Trust.

ENDS

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