CUNLIFFE Owen John
X78175, Warrant Officer, Royal New Zealand Air Force
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Gazetted Queen's Birthday 1984
Warrant Officer Cunliffe enlisted in the RNZAF as a boy entrant on 19 January 1956. Following his advanced trade training he gained experience on Hercules and Iroquois aircraft while serving in the United States, RNZAF Support Unit Singapore and RNZAF Base Auckland. Since 1976 he has been continuously involved with Iroquois maintenance programmes and currently holds the appointment of Maintenance Warrant Officer at No 3 Squadron. Throughout his service the Warrant Officer has consistently displayed outstanding determination and an exceptional sense of duty towards his unit and its maintenance effort. In his present post he has employed his excellent technical knowledge and organisational ability by developing a servicing and maintenance planfor the Iroquois helicopters which has had a marked improvement on aircraft availability. During this time, the New Zealand commitment to the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai dramatically increased No 3 Squadron's training effort over that already required for its many and diverse tasks. Much of the additional workload has been shouldered by this Warrant Officer and through his untiring efforts all commitments have been met. In addition to his primary duties Warrant Officer Cunliffe has devoted many long hours of his off duty time attending to the welfare of families of personnel posted to the Sinai and attached to the Royal New Zealand Navy. The majority of personnel required to fill these unaccompanied posts are drawn from the ranks of No 3 Squadron and Warrant Officer Cunliffe's exceptional effort and concern has earned him the respect and admiration of all personnel who have benefited from the support provided by this very capable servicemen. Despite these demands on his time, he has also completed terms on the committee, and latterly as Chairman of the Warrant Officer's and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers Mess. Warrant Officer Cunliffe's devotion and zeal, far in excess of the faithful and energetic performance of everyday duties has been exceptional.
Meritorious Service Medal
Gazetted 1 April 1987
Warrant Officer Cunliffe joined the RNZAF in January 1956 as a boy entrant. He qualified as an engine mechanic in December 1957 as a boy entrant. He qualified as an engine mechanic in December 1957 and following tours of duty at Ohakea and Lauthala Bay, qualified as an engine fitter in April 1961. Since qualifying in his master trade Warrant Officer Cunliffe has served at Ohakea, Travis Air Force Base in the USA, Auckland, Wellington and Singapore. Throughout his career Warrant Officer CunliffeWarrant Officer Cunliffe has stood out from his peer group. He has an incisive technical mind, a vast background of knowledge, which he combines with an exceptional administrative ability to plan and direct to the highest standard. Moreover he has that rare presence and vitality as a leader that see men seek out and respond to his brand of leadership. Warrant Officer Cunliffe's real talent emerged in the late 1960's following training in the USA, associated with the purchase of the Hercules transport aircraft. On return to New Zealand he shone as an engine systems diagnostic NCO, whose opinions were regularly sought, by both aircrew and specialist engineering officers on the new aircraft type. These talents were the key factor in his selection in 1973 for a posting to the Propulsion System Policy Cell in Air Staff, where he was utilised as a research assistant to the staff officer. In particular his work in establishing and cross-referencing a fuels, oils and lubricants policy, drew praise from his superiors. Recognition of his performance at Air Staff resulted in accelerated promotion to Warrant Officer and his selection as a foundation of the first Improved Maintenance Programme (IMP) team. He quickly became a cornerstone of the team, which has been assembled, to review the Orion aircraft maintenance and to formulate and implement a new management package. Warrant Officer Cunliffe’s vast background of trade knowledge, when combined with his incisive ability to grasp the heart of the problem, were key factors in ensuring that the different aircraft maintenance review was completed in a timely and professional manner. As a result of his efforts on the Orion, and to provide continuity with changing section commanders, he remained on the IMP programme to cover the Hercules and Iroquois aircraft. Warrant Officer Cunliffe has followed his IMP posting with three successive tours of duty, as the unit Warrant Officer on operational flying units, firstly at RNZAF SUS and subsequently at No 3 and 42 Squadrons. At all three units his performance has been assessed as excellent. In these posts he ably demonstrated a first class ability to manage men and resources and to mould a series of teams utilising their strengths to the very best advantage. His efforts in this area were best evidenced by his performance at No 3 Squadron. The squadron had been loaded with the additional task of training and supplying technicians to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai. Warrant Officer Cunliffe without prompting oversaw the welfare needs of the MFO (and seagoing Wasp helicopter) personnel and their families in New Zealand. He provided in his own time and utilising his own equipment, tapes for families of the servicemen in the Sinai, and acted as the first contact point for any family requiring assistance. As a result of his efforts in this area he was awarded an MBE in the 1984 New Years Honours. In summary, Warrant Officer Cunliffe’s entire career has been one of loyal service to the RNZAF and its men. Throughout he has shown an ability to undertake tasks with flair, perception and determination, maintaining at all times a happy disposition and a work rate which has been a standard one on which others seek to model. As such he strengthens the arm of those he serves and arguably stands out as one of the very best, if not THE best Warrant Officer in the RNZAF in recent years.
Member of the Order of the British Empire
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Force Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and bar
Born 7 November 1938 Auckland, New Zealand