OAM the latest award for man of action

When your community service spans more than 40 years and includes roles in the army and emergency services, it's hard to pick a single highlight.

For Thirroul's Philip McNamara, being responsible for the Defence Force counter-terrorist support at the Sydney Olympics is one of them, as is a leading role at the State Emergency Service (SES).

The 64-year-old retired brigadier has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the community, particularly to veterans and their families.

More Australia Day OAM recipients

"I was 35 years a soldier and then, for seven years, ran the SES," Mr McNamara said.

Today, he is the president of the Legacy Club of Wollongong and South Coast and has been a member of Legacy since 1984.

As a former director-general of the NSW SES, Mr McNamara said he was honoured to receive the award, but acknowledged the vast number of other volunteers in the community.

"It's always nice to get recognised, [but] I work with lots of other good people," he said.

"The fact that I've been able to give something back to the community gives me great pleasure."

Mr McNamara is also the chairman of the board of directors of Network Kokoda, a charitable organisation that assists communities along the Kokoda Track and preserves its military heritage.

He has walked the track on three occasions.

"It's a very significant part of our history ... it's important we acknowledge the work of those brave soldiers," he said.

Mr McNamara saw active service in South Vietnam with the Second Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, served in Papua New Guinea with the Pacific Islands Regiment and has been Honorary Colonel of the 1st Commando Regiment of the Australian Regular Army since 2005.

The counter-terrorist support for the Olympics was part of his final army appointment as Commander Special Forces from 1998-2001.

He was a member of the Churchill Fellowship selection committee from 2002-2010 and held the position of Wollongong Legacy Group chairman from 2009-2011.

The OAM is the latest in a string of accolades that includes the Conspicuous Service Cross, awarded in 1999 while serving in the Army, and the Emergency Services Medal in 2008.

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