National's candidate for the Ōtaki electorate, Wing Commander Tim Costley, has been awarded the Defence Forces' highest honour for his work on the Missing Wingman Trust.
He will receive the Defence Meritorious Service Medal and the Chief of Defence Force Commendation to members of the New Zealand Defence Force in recognition of their outstanding service.
A Defence Force press release said: "Wing Commander Costley realised that after the deaths of close colleagues in aircraft incidents in 2010, there was a shortfall in the provision of support services to the families of the deceased.
"He set about establishing a mechanism to provide support to service personnel and their families beyond which could be afforded through formal processes. He called on his own experience as an Equerry to Prince William, who was the Patron of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, and conducted significant research into the creation of a charitable trust.
"He gathered together a cadre of qualified advisers willing to share his dream and with their guidance, he developed a framework for the provision of support to Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel and their families when someone is killed, injured, wounded or seriously ill which became the Missing Wingman Trust. This trust has supported Air Force families since 2010.
"Wing Commander Costley was a founding trustee and has personally raised funds and initiated support services for the trust. The Missing Wingman Trust has been able to provide financial and material assistance to a wide array of serving members and their families, and is now recognised as the go to organisation for Air Force families when all formal support mechanisms are exhausted.
"The Air Force directly benefits from the work the trust does and the men, women and families take great comfort in the knowledge that through the trust, the wider Air Force family both serving and retired, will receive support in their times of need.
"The Missing Wingman Trust only exists and thrives because of the humility and dedication of Wing Commander Costley. He is the driving force behind this extremely important support system who has invested significant personal time over the last decade to ensure those in need are not forgotten.
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"Wing Commander Costley has been an exemplar of the New Zealand Defence Force's values of comradeship and commitment and he is a worthy recipient of the Defence Meritorious Service Medal."