THE PRO PATRIA PROJECT
WOOD, Gordon Lennox
G81495, Group Captain, Royal NZ Air Force

CITATION
Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
New Years Honours 1995.
To be an Ordinary Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contributions to the RNZAF.  Joining in 1964 as a University Officer Cadet, he completed his training as a pilot.  Group Captain WOOD was posted to his current position as Wigram's Base Commander in December 1990.  Group Captain WOOD was responsible for formulating and implementing plans for the relocation of the RNZAF's flying and ground training, and the impending closure of Base Wigram.  Concurrently he has been responsible for the welfare and interests of almost 800 personnel and dependants.  Group Captain WOOD approached his tasks with diligence and thoroughness.  He has carefully and sensitively balanced the competing demands of maintaining morale and satisfying his subordinates' personal needs with a clear focus on achieving the exacting task.  This has required considerable personal leadership, involving both compassion and firmness in guiding personnel through the location and closure process.

Air Force Cross
Queen’s Birthday Honours 1988
Wing Commander WOOD joined the RNZAF on 6 January 1964.  Having completed pilot training he began a long association with helicopter operations.  He has served variously at that capacity at home, in Singapore, with the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai, and attached to the Royal Australian Air Force in the Republic of Vietnam (Where he was Mentioned in Despatches for gallantry).  He is a qualified flying instructor, and has also completed senior professional training including the Air Warfare course and Royal Air Force College, Cranwell.  Wing Commander WOOD at present commands No 3 Squadron RNZAF.  Throughout his career his devotion to duty has been extraordinary and manifested by the great credit he has brought to himself, his Service, and his country during his overseas deployments.  Over the past two years he has shown consistently outstanding qualities of leadership in command of No 3 Squadron.  In defeating the many hazards of nature encountered during helicopter rescue missions in /ne Zealand, and during such as cyclone relief missions in Fiji in 1986.  He has demonstrated a great reserve of determination, skill and physical courage.  In less dramatic circumstances, in October 1987 he broke new ground in leading a significant Joint Force to exercise in Vanuatu, involving elements of the Vanuatu Mobile Force by arrangement, according to a particularly complicated mixture of aims and objectives.  In addition to the military skills required, this demanded a sensitive diplomacy.  The success of this venture has been well reported elsewhere; and is a fitting testament to his leadership skills.  For the past two years, in frequently difficult and sometimes arduous conditions, Wing Commander WOOD has been thoroughly tested as an operational Commander.  He has risen to the challenge as few could have done.

Mention in Despatches
Dated 19 October 1971
Flight Lieutenant WOOD is recognised for outstanding courage and devotion to duty under enemy fire while flying troop-extraction missions on operations in Vietnam.

Queens Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air (CVSA)
New Years Honours 1978
Flight Lieutenant WOOD has been a flying instructor on Sioux Helicopters at Wigram since mid 1976.  Throughout this period he has consistently demonstrated very high standards of flying airmanship and instructional ability.  After a mishap on the Waimakariri River on 8 December 1976, one member of a lifeboat crew was lost downstream, while the survivors reached the bank and remained there overnight.  The SAR organisation was alerted and, as both the Iroquois helicopters based at Wigram were unavailable, two Sioux piloted by Flight Lieutenants WOOD and BR FERGUSON (qv) proceeded to the search area.  After a briefing at Search Headquarters the two aircraft flew a co-ordinated reconnaissance and search mission upstream.  Seven survivors were found sheltering in a small cove about 20 feet into a sheer cliff on the northern river bank.  The gorge was very narrow making any aircraft maneuver most difficult.  To affect the rescue, each Sioux was hovered at right angles to and facing towards the cliff, a very difficult maneuver.  Working alternately, the Sioux uplifted all survivors who were suffering from shock and exposure and took them to a nearby hut for shelter.  The rescue took about 40 minutes.  Flying conditions worsened as the wind speed and thus turbulence increased, and the rivers rose to nearly cover the rock the aircraft had been resting on.  The aircraft then located the crew of the second liferaft, searched the river bed for the missing airman and directed jetboats towards the rescued personnel.  When these jetboats could not pick up the survivors, the Sioux ferried all the airmen back to Search Headquarters.  The next day, 10 December 1976, both pilots again searched the Waimakariri riverbed, and found the missing airman’s body.  It is apparent that both Sioux pilots showed exceptional initiative and flying skill under difficult and worsening conditions.

AWARDS
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Air Force Cross
NZ Operational Service Medal
Queen's Vietnam Medal
Mention in Despatches
NZ General Service Medal (warlike)
Vietnam
NZ General Service Medal (non warlike)
Sinai
NZ Armed Forces Award
NZ Defence Service Medal
Regular
Multinational Force & Observers Medal

Queens Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air (CVSA)

NOTES
Born 14 September 1945, Glasgow, Scotland
Died


Served with RNZAF from 6 January 1964 to 18 September 1985. Retired at rank of Group Captain.