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Soldiers’ Gallantry Honoured

Department of Defence Media Mail List
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CPA 337/06 Saturday, 2 December 2006

Afghanistan Veterans Welcomed Home – Soldiers’ Gallantry Honoured

The Governor-General His Excellency MAJ GEN Michael Jeffery, AC, CVO, MC, joined with Minister for Defence The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, MP and Special Operations Commander – Australia MAJ GEN Mike Hindmarsh AM, CSC, to welcome home Western Australia-based members of the Afghanistan Special Forces Task Group (SFTG) in a ceremony at Campbell Barracks today.

The soldiers, predominantly from the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), formed part of the 200-personnel strong SFTG operating in Southern Afghanistan since late August last year.

During the ceremony the Governor-General and Minister for Defence praised the dedication, professionalism and courage of the SFTG’s members in dominating their assigned area of operations and creating the conditions that allowed the successful introduction of the Australian Reconstruction Task Force to Oruzgan earlier this year.

The dangers faced by the SFTG were highlighted by the presentation of three Medals’ for Gallantry and a Commendation for Gallantry to SASR members by the Governor General.

Sergeant “C”, Lance Corporal “D”, Lance Corporal “E”, and Trooper “F” were all decorated for gallantry in recognition of their outstanding actions, leadership and bravery in Afghanistan.

During the awards presentation the Governor-General praised the actions of the four soldiers and described them as being “in the highest traditions of the Special Operations Command-Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.”

The Governor-General also reinforced his announcement last weekend awarding a Unit Citation for Gallantry to combat elements of the SFTG whilst the Task Group as a whole has been awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation. These awards will be formally presented at a later date.

Media Note: An edited version of the individual award citations is attached.
The identities of the Gallantry award recipients and full details of the actions in which they were awarded will not be publicly released for operational security reasons.
Selected award recipients are available for interview within operational security guidelines at the conclusion of the ceremony. There will be no further opportunities post this event.

Imagery will be available later this evening at the following link:
http://www.defence.gov.au/media/download/2006/Dec/index.cfm

Media contact:
Defence Media Liaison
(02) 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664

For a free subscription to Defence Direct, the Minister for Defence's monthly e-newsletter, please follow this link:
http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/defencedirect/spt/subscribe.html

AUSTRALIAN ARMY
TO BE AWARDED THE MEDAL FOR GALLANTRY
SASR SERGEANT “C”

For gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances as the second-in-command of a Special Air Service Regiment patrol in the Special Forces Task Group whilst deployed on Operation SLIPPER, Afghanistan, in 2006.

During the conduct of an operation, a patrol, with Sergeant “C” as second-in-command, were tasked with establishing an Observation Post in extremely rugged terrain over looking an Anti-Coalition Militia sanctuary. After an arduous ten hour foot infiltration up the side of the mountain, the patrol was called into action to support elements of the Combined Task Force Special Forces patrol thῡtᾠwere in contact with the Anti-Coalition Militia in the valley floor to their north. After the engagement, Sergeant œC™s patrol remained in their location and was the only coalition ground element with visibility of the target area.

During the course of the next day the patrol continued to coordinate offensive air support against identified Anti-Coalition Militia positions in order to further disrupt and degrade the enemy’s morale. During the afternoon, the Observation Post became the focus of the Anti-Coalition Militia who made repeated attempts by day and night to overrun and surround the position. In one such incident the Anti-Coalition Militia attempted to outflank the Observation Post and Sergeant œC, without regard for his own personal safeῴy, led a two man team to locate and successfully neutralise the Anti-Coalition Militia in order to regain the initiative and protect his patrol from being overrun.

This particular incident was followed by another Anti-Coalition Militia attempt to manoeuvre to attack the patrol Observation Post from another flank. Sergeant “C”, again with little regard for his personal safety, adopted a fire position that was exposed on high ground which dominated the planned Anti-Coalition Militia assault. Whilst deliberately exposing himself to intense rifle and machine gun fire from the Anti-Coalition Militia, he again neutralised the lead assaulting elements whiῬsῴ suppressing other Militia until the arrival of offensive air support. Whilst still under sustained fire, Sergeant œC then directed indirect fire to effectively neutralise another Anti-Coalition Militia advance on his patrol™s position. The courageous and gallant actions of Sergeant œC were instrumental in regaining the initiῡtῩve from the Anti-Coalition Militia and allowing the successful exfiltration of the patrol on foot prior to first light the next day.

Sergeant “C’s” actions of gallantry whilst under enemy fire in extremely hazardous circumstances, displayed courage of the highest order and is in keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations Command-Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.


AUSTRALIAN ARMY
TO BE AWARDED THE COMMENDATION FOR GALLANTRY
SASR LANCE CORPORAL “D”

For gallantry as a Patrol Medic during the treatment and evacuation of a wounded Australian soldier in the Special Forces Task Group, whilst deployed on Operation SLIPPER, Afghanistan in 2006.

During the conduct of an operation Lance Corporal “D’s” Troop entered a pass in Oruzgan Province in support of a larger Coalition force. They had previously entered the area in order to establish an overwatch position of a village thought to contain a concentration of Anti-Coalition Militia. As Lance Corporal “D’s” Troop moved north through the pass they received a large amount oῦ ῁nῴi-Coalition Militia fire including rocket propelled grenades, small arms and mortar fire. This Anti-Coalition Militia engagement was the first major indication of a large concentration of Anti-Coalition Militia in the area.

Throughout this heavy engagement, Lance Corporal “D” was providing fire support with his Anti-Armour weapon system from the side of the patrol vehicle whilst receiving intense fire from the Anti-Coalition Militia. During this engagement a rocket propelled grenade fired by the Militia exploded immediately behind Lance Corporal “D” seriously wounding his Patrol Commander. Whilstᾠsῴill under heavy fire, Lance Corporal œD reacted immediately and lifted his near unconscious Patrol Commander into their vehicle. He then manoeuvred his vehicle skilfully out of the direct line of effective fire, whilst continuing to restrain Patrol Commander in the vehicle wh` ῢy now was unconscious and in danger of falling ouῴ.ᾠ

The remainder of the Task Force elements were still receiving an effective and high rate of fire from mortars and rockets fired by the Anti-Coalition Militia. Lance Corporal “D” moved his vehicle into dead ground and continued to stabilise his Patrol Commander whilst advising the Troop Headquarters of the casualty evacuation requirements. Throughout the intense battle, Lance Corporal œD™s composure, application of skills and knowledge under extreme circumstances were instrumental in the stabilisatio΅ ῡnd extraction of the casualty. Lance Corporal œD™s actions, professionalism and dedication whilst under intense Anti-Coalition Militia fire significantly contributed to his Patrol Commander™s successful evacuation despite the potentially life threatening injury.

Lance Corporal “D’s” actions under heavy Anti-Coalition Militia fire were testament to his courage, tenacity and sense of duty to his wounded Patrol Commander. Lance Corporal “D’s” display of gallantry in disregarding his own personal safety in order to save the life of his Patrol Commander was of the highest order and in keeping with the finesῴ ῴrῡditions of Special Operations Command-Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.


AUSTRALIAN ARMY
TO BE AWARDED THE MEDAL FOR GALLANTRY
SASR LANCE CORPORAL “E”

For gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances as a patrol sniper in the Special Forces Task Group whilst deployed on Operation SLIPPER, Afghanistan in 2006.

During an operation Lance Corporal “E” was employed as the patrol scout and sniper in a patrol which was tasked with establishing an Observation Post near a pass in extremely rugged terrain over looking an Anti-Coalition Militia sanctuary. Early in the patrol, after an arduous ten hour foot infiltration up the side of a mountain, the patrol was required to coordinaῴeᾠoffensive air support to assist a combined Coalition Special Forces patrol who were in contact with the Anti-Coalition Militia in the valley floor to their north. Following this engagement the patrol remained in the Observation Post to continue providing vital information on the Anti-Coalition Militia in the area. This comprehe΅sῩve reporting had a significant effect on shaping the local area for the subsequent coalition forces operation.

The Observation Post became the focus of the Anti-Coalition Militia force and repeated attempts to locate and surround the position ensued. In one particular incident the Militia attempted to outflank the Observation Post. Lance Corporal “E” was part of a two-man team tasked to move out of their relatively secure Observation Post in order to locate and neutralise the Militia and to regain the initiative. This task was successfully achieved.

In another incident, Anti-Coalition Militia attempted to attack the Observation Post from a different flank, Lance Corporal “E” again moved to support and neutralise this threat. Lance Corporal “E” then realised that the forward edge of the Observation Post was not secure and made the decision to split the team and take up an exposed position forward of the patrol so he could effectively employ his sniper weapon. Whilst isolated, and in his precariousᾠp`sition, he observed a larger group of Anti-Coalition Militia advanci΅gᾠacross open ground towards the Observation Post. Lance Corporal œE effectively employed his sniper rifle to stop their advance whilst receiving very accurate small arms fire from another group of Militia to his flank. Through his efforts, Lance Corporal œE” ῭aintained the initiative and ensured that his patrol remained secureᾠbΌ holding this position without support for 20 minutes. He was eventually reinforced by his original team member and together the
y continued to hold off the Militia advance for a further twenty minutes until offensive air support arrived.

Lance Corporal “E’s” actions, whilst under heavy Anti-Coalition Militia fire and in a precarious position, threatened by a numerically superior force, are testament to his courage, tenacity and sense of duty to his patrol. His display of gallantry in disregarding his own personal safety in maintaining an exposed sniper position under sustained fῩrῥ ῷith a risk of being surrounded by the Anti-Coalition Militia was outstanding. His actions, in order to safeguard his patrol, were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations Command-Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.


AUSTRALIAN ARMY
TO BE AWARDED THE MEDAL FOR GALLANTRY
SASR TROOPER “F”

For gallantry in action in extremely hazardous conditions, as a patrol member in the Special Forces Task Group whilst deployed on Operation SLIPPER, Afghanistan in 2006.

Whilst in an overwatch position of a known Anti-Coalition Militia stronghold area, Trooper “F’s” patrol was simultaneously engaged by at least three groups of Anti-Coalition Militia, within close range, by both machine-gun and Rocket Propelled Grenades. At that time Trooper “F”, the patrol machine gunner, immediately returned fire into the well-concealed Anti-Coalition Militia. After firing one short burst, Trooper œF’s” ῶehicle-mounted machine gun malfunctioned and henceforth failed to fire automatic bursts. The patrol was receiving a large volume of very effective Anti-Coalition Militia fire. Des῰iῴe this Trooper œF remained in the unprotected turret of his vehicle and attempted to rectify the stoppage on the vehicle™s machine gun. When hῥ ῡsΰertained that the gun could not be rectified immediately, he dismounted from the vehicle and without delay began to engage the Anti-Coalition Militia positions with Anti-Armour wea῰o΅s and a grenade launcher.

After using all the available weapons systems, he then engaged the Anti-Coalition Militia with his personal machine gun, moving fire positions, aggressively engaging all three Anti-Coalition Militia fighting positions. At all times he was exposed to, and disregarding of, the effective and large volume of fire directed at the patrol and himself. The Patrol Commander observed the effectiveness of Trooper œF™s suppressive fire, which effectively fixed the Anti-Coalition Militia in location such that they could then be decisively engaged by the other patrol members. The patrol regained the initiative and successfully countered the Anti-Coalition Militia attack at that point.

In the lull, Trooper “F” immediately returned to his vehicle’s turret where he stripped the vehicle-mounted machine gun, attempting to rectify the problem. Upon ascertaining that the weapon was still incapable of automatic fire, he quickly reassembled the weapon. Shortly after this the Anti-Coalition Militia re-initiated their attack onto the patrol’sᾠposition. Once again, under heavy fῩre Trooper œF remained in the turret of the vehicle and returned fire as best as possible with the vehicle-mounted machine gun. The weapon was still only capable of firing single shots, with Trooper œF having to re-cock the weapon each time after firing. Trooper œF remained in position doing 150 rounds in this manner beforethe stoppage rectified itself and the gun began to function correctly. Trooper then returned automatic suppressing fire into the Anti-Coalition Militia positions which, along with the suppressing fire from the rest of the patrol, ultimately won the fire-fight
and forced the Anti-Coalition Militia to withdraw.

Trooper “F’s” actions and clear disregard for his own safety in order to neutralise Anti-Coalition Militia positions, while under fire in extremely hazardous circumstances, displayed significant personal gallantry in action and is in keeping with the finest combat traditions of Special Operations Command-Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Ends

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