Lieutenant Timothy O'Donnell, New Zealand Army

1982-2010 killed in Afghanistan

Timothy was born on 15 June 1982, and has been a member of the NZ Army for five years. LT O’Donnell enlisted into the Army on the 5th of January 2005, where he attended Officer Cadet School, graduating in December 2005 and posting to 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1 RNZIR).

On the 24th May 2008, he was posted to Burnham and on to 2/1 RNZIR with effect the 19th of August 2009. In his time with the Army, Tim deployed to Timor Leste in November 2006 and Afghanistan in April 2010.

In Timor Leste, Tim was recognised for his actions leading a platoon conducting a security patrol. In the 2008 New Year Honours, he was presented with a Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD) by the Governor General, Sir Anand Satyanand.

The citation below describes the action for which he received his DSD:
“Lieutenant O’Donnell, in the rank of Second Lieutenant, served as Platoon Commander in Timor Leste from November 2006 to May 2007, as part of the NZDF contribution to the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF). His platoon was conducting a security patrol in April 2007 when it encountered a crowd of approximately 1000 Fretilin supporters returning from an election rally in Dili.

“The crowd, escorted by UN Police officers, halted on the outskirts of Manatuto, fearing attacks from opposition political supporters. While the platoon was endeavouring to secure a safe route, the UN Police began moving the Fretilin supporters across a bridge toward Manatuto.

“The crowd was then ambushed by some 600 opposition supporters throwing rocks and firing steel darts and arrows. Under the hail of projectiles, the Police escort was quickly overwhelmed and withdrew, leaving the Fretilin convoy stranded on the bridge. He made a quick decision to intervene in the melee, which meant that his platoon also came under attack.

“Eventually, his platoon managed to push back the attackers and secure a bypass route around Manatuto for the Fretilin convoy, which safely circumnavigated the town without loss of life or serious injury. Soon after ISF reinforcements arrived on the scene to assist in restoring law and order to the town. Without the decisive intervention of his platoon, it is likely that the situation could have deteriorated resulting in a number of fatalities between the rival political supporters.

  • LT O’Donnell was a highly competent and widely liked officer. He was awarded the following honour and awards:
  • The New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration
  • New Zealand General Service Medal (Timor Leste)
  • New Zealand Operational Service Medal
  • Timor-Leste Solidarity Medal (Timorese Award)

LT O’Donnell was also due to be awarded the following two medals as a result of his deployment to Afghanistan:

  • NZ General Service Medal (Afghanistan) - Primary Op Area
  • NATO Medal for the Non-Article 5 ISAF Op in Afghanistan

Tim also served in the guard of honour for the funeral of Sir Edmund Hilary in January 2008.

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Song Title: 
A Hero's Legacy by Francis Edwards

A Hero's Legacy by Francis Edwards

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