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NZDF Person of the Year 2023

The Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Kevin Short has named an exemplary junior leader as the New Zealand Defence Force Person of the Year.

01 December, 2023

Lance Bombardier Jake O’Hara, 23, who was named Soldier of the Year last month, received the honour at a ceremony in Wellington today. He had been told he was a finalist while deployed on exercise overseas, requiring him to return to New Zealand for the finalist award ceremony.

The Person of the Year event is an annual event for the NZDF to celebrate individual successes and recognise organisational excellence. The event allows members of our Senior Leadership Team to reflect on the year passed and acknowledge the achievements of a group of award winners from across the Defence Force.

Air Marshal Short noted the characteristics Lance Bombardier O’Hara brings to the NZDF are special, and are those of a junior leader operating above expectation.

He applies the NZDF values across all areas of his work and has demonstrated excellent technical skills and ability, along with his personal skills of true courage and maturity to mentor, coach and support others.

Lance Bombardier O’Hara is a member of 161 Battery, 16th Field Regiment and is based at Linton Military Camp. His managers say his work ethic and personal skills and attributes set a standard worth celebrating. Jake says he just likes solving problems and troubleshooting, especially the technical aspects of his work in the battery.

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NZDF People of the Year 2023

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Lance Bombardier O’Hara is a Command Systems lance bombardier and his role is to be a master of all things within the Command Post. When a new and advanced Fire Prediction System was introduced into service, Lance Bombardier O’Hara took it upon himself to become a Subject Matter Expert (SME).

As an SME, Jake represented 16 Field Regiment as the Command Systems expert on Exercise Bold Quest 23, the largest international display of new and upcoming military equipment in the world. After this international activity, he spent many hours teaching and sharing his knowledge with his Royal New Zealand Artillery colleagues, to make sure they were well-versed in the Fire Prediction systems’ intricacies.

He excelled during his non-commissioned officer course, supporting and mentoring fellow course members outside of regular course hours. This saw him receive the Peers Award.

His managers have noted he has been a constant source of support to soldiers in stressful times, providing essential companionship and reassurance.

He plans on staying in the Army and progressing through his trade, and hopes to eventually have a role in the Army’s School of Artillery where he can teach and coach other soldiers.

NZDF People of the Year 2023

Read more about our People of the Year award winners here.