FLIGHT LEADER: Officer Commanding No 78 Wing, Group Captain Terry van Haren, DSM.
FLIGHT LEADER: Officer Commanding No 78 Wing, Group Captain Terry van Haren, DSM. CPL Craig Barrett

Service in Iraq honoured: He flew 15 combat missions

SQUADRON Leader Terry van Haren joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1986 and made a vital contribution by building a highly cohesive, inspired and capable team of aircrew.

Under difficult combat conditions, in 2003 he led the second defensive counter-air package of Australian F/A-18 aircraft in Iraq during Operation Falconer.

He flew 15 combat missions over enemy territory, 12 of them as flight leader.

His leadership and performance in action were impeccable and his energy and initiative provided an inspiring example to his subordinates, peers and superiors.

Sqn Ldr van Haren was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 2003.

His dedication and professionalism enhanced the standing of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Defence Force within the Coalition forces. He has since been promoted to group captain.

The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to members of the Australian Defence Force who demonstrate distinguished leadership in warlike operations.

Introduced in 1991, it is the second-highest distinguished service decoration in the Australian honours system and has been awarded to 162 recipients. Seven of these recipients have also been awarded Bars, for repeated acts of outstanding leadership.

Q&A with Group Captain Terry van Haren:

How did it feel when you were invited to accept the decoration?

I felt honoured to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM). Just as I feel honoured to represent RAAF and the other recipients who have been recognised by this award in this Anzac Day Coins collection. It is a privilege to be signalled out for leadership in warlike operations, especially while leading a highly effective team, who came together and did a terrific job in challenging circumstances. For me it was recognition of a job well done by my team.

Why did you choose to join the ADF and how does it make you feel to serve your country?

I joined the Air Force to fly fighter aircraft and serve my country. I developed this interest when I was a young boy and followed it through with my hobbies and schooling. Now that I am older, I realise I did it because I believe in the values of service: dedication, commitment and the privilege that goes along with serving your country.

Why do you feel that these decorations are so important? In what way did receiving one impact on your life/career?

The distinguished decorations recognise those who have extended themselves in warlike operations to lead and serve others. Receiving one is an honour, but I also like seeing them awarded to the many outstanding leaders who have also had the privilege of leading our airmen, women, soldiers and sailors in combat conditions. Receiving a DSM has motivated me to keep doing what I do to serve my country and people of Australia.

Get your Distinguished Service Medal coin with the paper today for just $3. Token on PAGE 2 of Monday's Chronicle.

Wednesday's coin is the Victory Medal.



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