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Former RNZN Chief wins Commander of US Legion of Merit

Freyberg, Park, Steer: Former RNZN Chief joins legendary New Zealand military leaders as Commander of US Legion of Merit

Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RNZRSA) Chief Executive Jack Steer ONZM received today the United States of America’s third-highest military honour.

Rear Admiral Steer (Rtd) received the Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander) from United States Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown, on behalf of President of the United States of America.

The honour was given in recognition for actions carried out during his appointment as Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy from 2012 to 2015.

Rear Admiral Steer joins a select few other New Zealanders to be recognised as Commanders of the Legion of Merit, including: Lieutenant General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg, VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO & Three Bars, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Rodney Park, GCB, KBE, MC & Bar, DFC.

Baron Freyberg received the award after playing an instrumental role in the Allied victory in Europe during World War 2.

Sir Keith received the award following his command of the British Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain, and the Battle of Malta, also during WW2.

RSA National President BJ Clark extends his heartfelt and sincere congratulations on behalf of all RSA members to Rear Admiral Steer for this significant honour.


The full citation for the honour is as follows:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 20, 1942, has awarded the Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander) to


for exceptionally meritorious service as Chief of Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy from December 2012 to November 2015. Rear Admiral Steer displayed strong leadership, exceptional vision and guidance. He led the Royal New Zealand Navy in overcoming increasingly complex maritime challenges in the South Pacific and beyond, to include supporting multi-lateral and interagency PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP planning and missions during all phases of this naval operation between 2013 and 2015. Rear Admiral Steer contributed to maritime efforts by deploying forces to Combined Task Force 150 and Combined Task Force 151 from August to December 2014 and contributing ships during two separate deployments. In addition, he was instrumental in enhancing intelligence and information sharing between the United States and the Royal New Zealand Navy by providing insights into his Navy’s extensive interaction with the Peoples’ Liberation Army (Navy), facilitating a greater understanding of the Chinese perspective on disputes in Northeast Asia and the South China Sea. The superior effort, outstanding leadership, and personal initiative displayed by Rear Admiral Steer reflect great credit upon himself, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and his country.

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