Stolen medals hit soldier hard
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.