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Michael "Mick" James Leahy
New Guinea Explorer

Background
Born February 26, 1901 born in Toowoomba, Queensland, the fourth of nine children of Irish migrant Daniel Leahy. In 1926, he left Australia and traveled to New Guinea in hopes of finding gold at Edie Creek. After suffering from an almost fatal bout of malaria upon trying to reach the gold fields, Leahy instead took a construction and labour management job based in Lae.

Highlands Exploration
In 1930, Mick Leahy with Mick Dwyer walked across New Guinea in 1930 and disproved the prevailing opinion that the interior of the island was unpopulated. In 1933, Mick Leahy and his brother Danny Leahy were leaders of the expedition that opened up the Wahgi valley of the Western Highlands.

He was one of the first Europeans to reach and climb the country's second tallest mountain Mount Giluwe in 1934. However, Jack Hides had also laid claim to be the first to discover Mount Giluwe, so Leahy went to England in 1935 and forced the Royal Geographical Society to set up a hearing into the two opposing claims. The following year Leahy was awarded a grant from the Society and published his discoveries in their journal.

During the 1930s, Michael Leahy was searching for gold and contracted to New Guinea Goldfields Limited and built Bena Bena Airfield, the first landing ground in the Highlands.

World War II
During World War II, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a flight lieutenant. In 1944, he was assigned to the US chief engineer and flew with American engineers and built Telefomin Airfield. For his services during the war Leahy was awarded the US Medal of Freedom with bronze palm in 1948.

For his services during the war Leahy was awarded the US Medal of Freedom with bronze palm in 1948, appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1952 and made an honorary member of The Explorers Club in 1959. He is the father of Richard Leahy. He died at Zenag, Morobe province, in 1979.

Relatives
Dan Leahy (brother)
Richard Leahy (son)
Amanda Leahy (granddaughter)
Nicholas Leahy (grandson)
Sofie Leahy (granddaughter)

References
Thanks to Richard Leahy for additional information

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