An Auckland man has been named the Air Force’s airman of the year for his role in delivering aid to the Pacific during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leading aircraftman Dennis Tommy said he was honoured and humbled to receive the award.
“Recognition isn’t really what I’m after, though. I just see something that needs to be done and I do it,” Tommy said.
Tommy organised ways his squadron and other Defence Force staff could safely operate during the pandemic and created bio-hazard cleaning packs for aircrew.
He also played a “vital” role when his squadron was asked to deliver aid to Fiji and Vanuatu after Cyclone Harold.
Samoan-born Tommy was also recognised for playing a part in establishing the Base Auckland Pasifika Group, an initiative with a focus on Pasifika welfare and professional development.
He is also a mentor to young Pasifika in the community and to junior personnel at work.
“It’s really important that more Pasifika people join the military because we bring a different perspective and also our culture to the work. I believe that diversity makes for a stronger military,” Tommy said.
“I enjoy boosting the Pasifika culture in the military because there aren’t many of us, so I think it helps the Pacific people who are here.”
Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark said the award was given to someone who made a “significant and positive contribution” to the Air Force.
“[Tommy’s] work ethic and consistent commitment to go above and beyond is second-to-none,” he said.