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NZSAS Soldier’s Bravery to Be Recognised Posthumously


Media Release
31 March 2012
NZSAS Soldier’s Bravery to Be Recognised Posthumously

During the presentation of the NZ Memorial Cross to the family of Lance Corporal Leon Smith, the Prime Minister today announced that he would also become the latest recipient of the Charles Upham Award for Bravery.

The award is made to the person who has risked their life to undertake an outstanding act of heroism during the previous two calendar years, as determined by the Charles Upham Trust Committee.

Nominations are called for each year from organisations such as the NZ Defence Force, NZ Police, NZ Fire Service, Civil Defence and the Surf Life Saving Association in addition to the public.

On 19 August 2011, Lance Corporal Smith was part of a NZSAS Task Force that responded to an insurgent attack on the British Council Office in Kabul, Afghanistan. Also present was Corporal Doug Grant, who was tragically killed during the incident.

During the response, Lance Corporal Smith had exposed himself to insurgent fire in order to confirm Corporal Grant’s location after he had been mortally wounded. He then ran across exposed and open ground in order to reach Corporal Grants location, and immediately started applying first aid until he could be evacuated.

The announcement means that LCpl Smith will become the 24th recipient of the Charles Upham Award for Bravery when it is presented by the Governor General at a time and place yet to be determined. He will also become the fourth member of the NZ Defence Force to receive the award.

ENDS
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Background Information:

Lance Corporal Leon Smith enlisted into the New Zealand Army on 23 August 2005 and completed NZSAS Selection in 2006 and the NZSAS Basic Cycle of Training in 2007. He had previously served in Afghanistan with the NZSAS over the period January - October 2010 and started his second Tour of Duty in August 2011. He was killed in action on 28 September 2011.
The Charles Upham Award for Bravery:

The Charles Upham Award for Bravery stems from public recognition of the gallantry of Captain Charles Upham, VC and Bar. Shortly after World War 2, money which was originally raised by the people of Canterbury to purchase a farm for Captain Upham was declined by him and at his suggestion was used to fund scholarships for returned servicemen or their sons or daughters at the University of Canterbury or Lincoln College. The purpose of the original scholarship ran its natural course and in 1976 the Bravery Award was initiated. The Charles Upham Award for Bravery is made annually to the person, who, in the opinion of the Trust Committee, has, at risk to his or her own life, performed the most outstanding act of heroism during the previous two calendar years.

Previous Recipients of the Charles Upham Award for Bravery:
1981 Sgt Peter Stanley Burton, RNZAF
1982 Const Mark Gregory Davidson, NZ Police
1983 No award made
1984 Able Seaman David Daniel Douglas, RNZN
1985 Const Stephan Anthony Linney, NZ Police
1986 Mr James Anthony Gilligan, Civilian
1987 Mr Stephan Ralph John Ching, Civilian
1988 Mr Graeme John Finn, Civilian
1989 Sgt John Akurangi, NZ Army
1990 No award made
1991 Mr Joseph Boyd Goodwin, NZ Fire Service
1992 Mr Ate Heineman, Civilian
1993 Miss Jacinda Amey, Civilian
1994 Mrs Evelyn Winslade, Civilian
1995 Const Massey Vaughan Coffin, NZ Police
1996 Sgt Christopher Anthony Maude, NZ Police
1997 No award made
1998 Mr Craig Smart, Civilian
1999 Mr Maurice Knowles, Civilian
2000 Mr David Gibson, NZ Fire Service
2001 No award made
2002 Ms Stacey Watson, Civilian
2003 Mr John William Hare, Civilian
2004 Mr Robert John Van Hale, Civilian
2005 Mr Jamie Fisher, Civilian
2006 Senior Sgt Alister Dickie, NZ Police
2007 No award made
2008 No award made
2009 Const James Muir, NZ Police

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