Stolen medals hit sol­dier hard

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - JARED NICOLL

For the first time in half a cen­tury, for­mer NZ Army Ma­jor Steven Heller this year did not at­tend an Anzac Day cer­e­mony.

Heller was too dev­as­tated after some­one took eight medals span­ning 27 years of ser­vice in the New Zealand and Aus­tralian de­fence forces from his home in Aotea, Porirua, ear­lier this year.

The 58-year-old had at­tended Anzac Day events since he was five years old, and be­lieved this year was the first time he did not at­tend a cer­e­mony.

‘‘I missed my very first one this year be­cause the medals were miss­ing and I can’t even describe how I was feel­ing that time.

‘‘The last time I had them was at a funeral in Jan­uary. The only time I re­ally wear them is on Anzac Day or the pass­ing of a com­rade.

‘‘I felt vi­o­lated that some­one could do that to me.’’

He re­ported the medals and for­mal blazer miss­ing to Porirua po­lice after fail­ing to find them dur­ing a thor­ough search of the house be­fore April 25, Anzac Day.

The medals were only kept in one place; the home has an alarm, and there were no signs of forced en­try.

They in­clude recog­ni­tion of time served with the Aus­tralian De­fence Force, the North At­lantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Nato) for work in for­mer Yu­goslavia, and var­i­ous other hot spots.

‘‘The medals are a lit­tle unique as they in­clude the Aus­tralian De­fence Medal from my time in the ADF.

‘‘The sports blazer is also a lit­tle unique as it in­cludes five army sports pock­ets.’’

Heller just wanted the medals back, anony­mously dropped off if nec­es­sary.

‘‘My grand­fa­ther fought in WorldWar II, and I was in­tro­duced to Anzac Day at an early age.

‘‘I went re­li­giously with my grand­fa­ther un­til he passed away.’’

He now works for the Min­istry for Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren: Oranga Ta­mariki.

A po­lice spokes­woman con­firmed the medals were re­ported stolen on April 27.

For­mer NZ Army Ma­jor Steven Heller at Te Ko­tahi­tanga Marae last year.

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