Wednesday, June 10, 2015

ON RON MARK

Whale Oil has challenged the statement that Ron Mark, NZ First List MP, was a member of the NZ Special Air Service (SAS).   You can read it here.

Can I first of all acknowledge Ron Mark's service.   He joined as a boy soldier (Regular Force Cadet), as did I, where he trained as a mechanic.   After six years in the ranks he passed a ROSB (Regular Officer Selection Board) and attended the Officer Cadet School at Waiouru where, on graduation, he was commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME) as a Second Lieutenant.   Over the next seven years Mark served in a variety of appointments including a tour-of-duty as a United Nations observer on the Egyptian/Israeli boarder.   He retired from the NZ Army as a Captain.     Later he was a Workshop Manager in the Sultan of Oman's Land Forces where he was afforded the local rank of Major.     He should be proud of that service.

Ron Mark never served with the SAS.   It is accepted he may have applied to join the SAS but he was never posted to that unit as a 'badged' member.    I am not sure that Mark has ever claimed outright that he was SAS but clearly he may have hinted his association enough for the media to add one and one together and make three.  

It is a sad fact that some choose to exaggerate their military service in order to enhance their reputations.     I am reminded of the story by a close friend of mine, decorated in Vietnam, and who later served with the British SAS and Parachute Regiment and who commanded Mark in Oman, that if all the soldiers who claimed to have been on the balcony of the Iranian Embassy in London when it was stormed by members of B Squadron, 22 SAS, in Operation Nimrod (5 May 1980)  had actually been there then the balcony itself would have collapsed through shear weight of numbers.

I digress.   Mark has no need to exaggerate his service.   He served honourably.   Unfortunately that seems to be a trait among NZ First MPs.   Bill Gudgeon, NZ First List MP 2002-2005, claimed to have served in Vietnam and with the SAS.   It was later admitted this was untrue.



19 comments:

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

The real fault is with our lazy media.

Of course, if Mr Mark was an honorable member he would issue a press statement to correct the media errors.

Chris Bird said...


"I am not sure that Mark has ever claimed outright that he was SAS but he may have hinted his association enough for the media to add one and one together and make three."

This from his bio at NZ First

http://nzfirst.org.nz/ron-mark
Ron Mark was born in Masterton, raised as a ward of the state, growing up in a number of foster homes in Napier and the Wairarapa before attending Tararua College. At age 16 he was accepted into the New Zealand Army’s Regular Force Cadet School, Waiouru, graduating into the Regular Army in 1971 as a soldier mechanic.

He served six years in the ranks and in 1978 was accepted for Officer Cadet Training graduating 12 months later as a 2nd Lieutenant.

In 1982 he was selected for service with the NZSAS, and as one of five New Zealand Army officers was sent to assist in setting up a new peace keeping mission in Israel and Egypt. He completed two back to back tours and was repatriated in 1983.

Chris Bird said...

If this last statement above is not correct, the Ron Mark needs to make sure that it is amended to make absolutely sure that his great military record is not tarnished with these words.

The Veteran said...

Chris Bird ... and that is the issue. The phraseology in Mark's bio would suggest he was selected to serve with the NZSAS and went to the Sinai as an observer. Members of the NZSAS do not serve as UN observers but more to the point, Mark was never 'badged' SAS. Nevertheless he is happy for the media to make the link that someone who may have passed the SAS selection course but who was never posted to that unit and was certainly never 'badged' i.e. completed the initial SAS training course including the 'wings' course, may be promoted as someone with SAS credentials.

Much the same way as a trainee Ab initio pilot who never completed fight training could never be considered to be a pilot.

Noel said...

Wasn't there a pollie who claimed he shot with a cross bow in Vietnam?
Pollies... par for the course..spin, spin, spin.

The Veteran said...

Good memory Noel ... yes, one Geoff Braybrooke, MP for Napier 1981-2002, Deputy Speaker 1999-2002. Geoff was a WO2 Medic and served with the Services Medical Team in Bong Son. His claim that he shot NVA soldiers with a crossbow was treated with derision and earned him the nickname 'Crossbow'.

He was a campaigner on the Agent Orange issue but his efforts were hampered by the crossbow incident. In short, MPs from both sides of the House struggled to take him seriously. Didn't help his standing in the Labour caucus by his conservative stance on social issues especially the homosexual law reform legislation.

MFC85B said...

the force on the Israeli / Egypt is not a UN mission and doesn't have UN observers. The MFO was established by the US Camp David talks and is an independent operation answerable to the three Camp David parties.

The Veteran said...

TY MFC85B. Changes nothing. Mark did not go there as a member of the SAS because he was never a member of the SAS.

gravedodger said...

AS a watcher of Question time, the general debate and other shows from the NZ Parliament, and while acknowledging the mans Military Service, his behaviour and actions as one of the Dwarf's poodles only engenders contempt.
Any suggestion that he is a possible successor to the doyen of current political operatives just makes that assessment more embedded and Mark's image totally laughable.


In the Parliament he is variously rude, smartarsed, foulmouthed and extremely bullying in his demeanour and he brings nothing of credit to the proceedings, odious is the word that jumps into my mind, maybe a future as a court jester has potential for him.
Some of his actions around the planning, deployment and public notifications in relation to my country's current contribution to what is going down in Iraq were only embarrassing.

He could well take his own succinct advice as articulated so swiftly and accurately by the young lady translating contributions during sign language week. I wonder if that lady reacting with such alacrity is on Ron Mark's Christmas card list.
For those who missed it. he was sat down by Mr Speaker and as a mumbled aside he audibly suggested anther STFU only he did not abbreviate it to initials.

Oh and I agree he should correct the public record as regards his service record but then he is a politician and we now know they only rank above journalists as professions, second to bottom.

Anonymous said...

When I saw, "In the Parliament he is variously rude, smartarsed, foulmouthed and extremely bullying in his demeanour and he brings nothing of credit to the proceedings, odious is the word that jumps into my mind, maybe a future as a court jester has potential for him" I thought it was about John Key.

I only realised it wouldn't be about Key when I reread it and found 'foulmouthed.'

Anonymous said...

The SAS connection comes from Oman when as as workshop manager for the Sultan of of Omans forces he arranged the servicing and resupplying of the Brit SAS vehicles which were not there.......ssshhh.

Anonymous said...

Good post Vet, now in in the interest of fairness can us plebs down here post our favourite choice of flag. As a fervant gnat supporter you seem to have the advantage in terms of exposure.

Fair go mate.

The Veteran said...

Anon 9.56 ... re flag. Regret the technology doesn't allow for this. If it did then no issues with me.

But can I again reiterate my position. I have set the bar quite high. The alternative presented is really going to have to ring my bell before I will vote to change the current flag. As it stands right now only the Kyle-Lockwood proposal (that I am featuring) comes close ... but not quite close enough.

Noel said...

"Not there...ahh"

Reminds me of the outing at Suva and the opposition noises that stopped when they were reminded of observation of the Ho Chi Minh trail before any troops were committed to Vietnam.






The Veteran said...

Sorry Noel .... I don't do cryptic overly well. Elucidate .....

Noel said...

Labour Suva SAS sighted on frigate etc
Remember that?

The Veteran said...

Hmmm ... sort of. What I do know is that in 1987 PM Lange was all for sending the SAS to help stage a sort of counter-coup until CDF reminded him that Ranuka had a couple of battalions of well trained infantry to call on and that he could not guarantee success. Lange's opinion of the military, never very good, declined further.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy said...

Mark would do well to correct the inference in his bio. He has a short window in time to do so. The media will have hold of this now and I have no doubt that another organisation well known to the Vet and I will be very interested.

Noel said...

"he could not guarantee success"

Should have flown the troops to Norfolk Island and joined the ADF in a Morris Dance.(excuse the pun)