I spoke of this last year, I had a positive feeling, but history was against me. This may be the first of several VCs to come out of Afghanistan.
Today it was announced that Mark Donaldson was awarded the Victoria Cross in a ceremony this morning.
I am just so proud of this fine Soldier.Trooper Donaldson was serving with the SAS in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan on September 2 last year when his unit was hit by an ambush, wounding nine Australians.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous acts of gallantry in a circumstance of great peril”, according to the citation.
“During a prolonged and effective enemy ambush on numerous occasions he deliberately drew the enemy’s fire in order to allow wounded soldiers to be moved to safety.
“As the battle raged around him he saw that a coalition force interpreter was lying motionless on exposed ground.
“With complete disregard for his own safety, on his initiative and alone, Trooper Donaldson ran back 80 metres across exposed ground to rescue the interpreter and carry him back to vehicle.
“Trooper Donaldson then rejoined his patrol and continued to engage the enemy while remaining exposed to heavy enemy fire.”
His citation said he "displayed exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril" and saved the life of the interpreter. Defence Force head Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston said as the highest ranking military officer Trooper Donaldson was the only man he would salute and did so proudly.
The full story here http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24788091-25837,00.html
A later report citing US troops involved, released by the ADF.
On 2 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, Trooper Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy that was engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. The ambush was initiated by a high volume of sustained machine gun fire coupled with the effective use of rocket propelled grenades. Such was the effect of the initiation that the combined patrol suffered numerous casualties, completely lost the initiative and became immediately suppressed. It was over two hours before the convoy was able to establish a clean break and move to an area free of enemy fire.
In the early stages of the ambush, Trooper Donaldson reacted spontaneously to regain the initiative. He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle. During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers. This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.
As the enemy had employed the tactic of a rolling ambush, the patrol was forced to conduct numerous vehicle manoeuvres, under intense enemy fire, over a distance of approximately four kilometres to extract the convoy from the engagement area. Compounding the extraction was the fact that casualties had consumed all available space within the vehicles. Those who had not been wounded, including Trooper Donaldson, were left with no option but to run beside the vehicles throughout. During the conduct of this vehicle manoeuvre to extract the convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind. Of his own volition and displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Trooper Donaldson moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter. His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine gun fire from entrenched positions. Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, Trooper Donaldson picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.