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Sympathy extended to family of top soldier

22 January 2001 Media Statement

Sympathy extended to family of top soldier

Defence Minister Mark Burton has extended the Government's condolences to the family of Lieutenant-General Tony Birks, who died yesterday at his home near Whakatane.

"General Birks served his country with distinction for almost 40 years, including four years as Chief of Defence Force," Mark Burton said. "He also took a particular interest in helping at-risk children following his retirement to the Bay of Plenty."

On graduation from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1961, Tony Birks was commissioned as a second Lieutenant into 2 New Zealand Regiment.

As an infantry platoon commander he had active service on the Thai/Malaysian border, in peninsula Malaysia, and in Borneo. He also served in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969.

Tony Birks went on to hold a variety of Defence and Army staff appointments, including Chief Instructor of the Army’s Tactical School in Waiouru, Commanding Officer 2/1 Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, Burnham, and Director of Plans, Army General Staff, Wellington.

In 1985 he was posted to Christchurch as Commander 3rd Task Force, and in 1987 returned to Wellington on his appointment as Assistant Chief of Defence Force (Operations).

In 1990 after attending the Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK he was appointed Deputy Chief of Defence Staff. In March 1992 he was appointed Chief of General Staff and promoted to Major General.

In February 1995, General Birks became Chief of Defence Force, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General. Lieutenant General Birks retired from the service on 24 February 1999.

"Arrangements for General Birk's funeral are currently being discussed between the New Zealand Defence Force and his family," Mark Burton said.


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