Brigadier Dr Brian McMahon CBE KStJ KCLJ
Brigadier McMahon (Retired) served in the New Zealand Deference Force for over 40 years, culminating in his appointment as Director General Defence Force Medical Services. He commenced his service as the Resident Medical Officer in Waiouru in 1966. In 1968 he was appointed Regimental Medical Officer 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in Malaysia. He served on active service as a Medical Officer in the 1st New Zealand Services Medical Team in Vietnam in 1969. He attended the Royal Army Medical Corps Command and Staff College in the UK in 1971 and 1972, and was then appointed as Commanding Officer Burnham Military Hospital until 1977. He was then appointed CO NZ Forces Hospital Singapore until 1980, when he was appointed as Director General until his retirement in 1983.
After retiring from the Regular Force, Brigadier McMahon remained active within the Defense Medical Services. He held the appointment of Colonel Commandant RNZAMC from 1992-95, and again from 2005-08. He was the locum Medical Officer in Waiouru in 1994, and the Senior Medical Officer there in 1996. During this time he also returned often to the Defense Forces medic training school (now called Defence Health School) to help teach new generations of medics on tertiary level health courses.
He was appointed Honorary Colonel for the Otago University Medical Company in 2002.
Brigadier McMahon’s military career was followed by a distinguished medical career. He maintained a prominent leadership role as medical superintendent of firstly Wakari Hospital and then Dunedin Hospital, and as a lecturer at Otago Medical School.
Despite being 80 years old, Dr McMahon continues to mentor and teach medical students and has been a powerful influence on the careers of many successful medical professionals, both in the military and civilian settings.
In addition, Dr McMahon provided his expertise as a medical advisor to four separate service organisations: Ministry of Civil Defense 1980-84, The Order of St. John 1980- 1993, New Zealand Red Cross 1981-84, and New Zealand Surf Life Saving Association 1981-84.
Internationally Dr Brian McMahon is an active member of Leprosy Trust Board Fiji (Inc) based in Suva. He has undertaken leprosy missions in the South West Pacific and SE Asia first as Chairman, and then as the medical advisor to the Christchurch based Pacific Leprosy Foundation – an activity he continues to undertake.
He remains actively involved in the NZ Vietnam Health Trust as Patron. He was Chairman of the Trust from 1988 to 1990 and has regularly travelled to the Binh Dinh Province to assist with and assess Trust projects in Qui Nhon, Qui Hoa Leprosarium and orthopaedics in Bong Son. He served in Bong Son during the Vietnam conflict.
The Trust was established by the Medical Corps and civilian personnel who worked in Vietnam during the war. Operating in close cooperation with Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trades own bilateral aid programme and later NZAID the Trust has sponsored numerous training programmes in Qui Nhon and elsewhere in Bin Dinh. The Trust continues its work today.
Dr McMahon serves as a member of the Board of Trustees and is a former Chair of the Ethics and Clinical Advisory Committee at Montecillo War Veterans Hospital and Rest Home. Today, he continues to serve the veteran community as a member of the War Pensions Appeal Board.
Brigadier (Retired) Dr Brian McMahon holds numerous Honors and Awards including Commander Order of the British Empire (CBE), Knight of the Order of St John (KStJ) and Knight Commander Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem (KCLJ). He has also had the honor of being appointed as the Honorary Surgeon to Her Majesty the Queen 1980-83.
RNZRSA national president Don McIver says Brian McMahon has demonstrated the spirit of Anzac in his lifetime of service to the army, to the nation, and to the international community as soldier, citizen, doctor and humanitarian.