For services to the New Zealand Defence Force
Squadron Leader Rhys Evans was appointed Commander of the initial deployment of a C-130 Task Unit to the Middle East for the period June to September 2016.
The New Zealand contingent formed part of an integrated Australian Defence Force Air Mobility Task Group supporting coalition forces in the area. This was the first long-term deployment since 2003 of a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, its crew and support team. In light of this the newly promoted Squadron Leader Evans led an intensive pre-deployment preparation regime to close gaps in experience and knowledge to facilitate a deployment of this magnitude. Further training and preparation followed on arrival in theatre with the aim of ensuring that effective flight operations could be conducted over both Iraq and Afghanistan. Under his leadership the detachment completed 98 percent of their assigned aircraft missions, an extremely high success rate for the harsh environment in which they were operating. The work output and trust he and his team generated within the coalition enabled the Australian Defence Force to withdraw one of their C-130 aircraft earlier than scheduled. Squadron Leader Evans’ leadership and achievement as a relatively junior officer in a key operational appointment was recognised by his coalition colleagues and brought credit to the New Zealand Defence Force.