First Aussie in 40 years awarded the VC in 'Stan

MSPA 019/09 Friday, 16 January 2009


The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, today saluted Trooper Mark Donaldson as he became the first Australian in almost forty years to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said the Victoria Cross for Australia was the nation’s highest military honour and was presented only to those who displayed the most conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy.

“Today is a momentous day for the Australian Defence Force and for Trooper Donaldson,†Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

“I ask you all to contemplate Trooper Donaldson’s selfless and courageous act of mateship and loyalty - not only to his fellow Aussie comrades but to the Afghani interpreter whose life he undoubtedly saved.

“We in the Australian Defence Force stand united in our pride as one of our own is admitted into the most exclusive of military fraternities.

“Trooper Donaldson has been inducted into the ranks of those military personnel deemed to be the most gallant; the most heroic; the most devoted.

“He joins a band of brothers so admired for their valour that there are only ten surviving members in the world today.â€

Air Chief Marshal Houston said tradition held that even the most senior officer saluted a Victoria Cross recipient as a mark respect for their act of valour.

“It will be my great honour from this day forth to salute Trooper Mark Donaldson, VC,†Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, congratulated Trooper Donaldson on behalf of all members of the Australian Army.

“Trooper Donaldson’s actions, and those of the other members of his patrol, are fine examples of the very best in Australian soldiering. I’m very proud of them all,†Lieutenant General Gillespie said.

Trooper Donaldson said he felt very privileged and overwhelmed at being awarded Australia’s highest military honour.

“I don’t see myself as a hero. I was in Afghanistan just doing my job. My training and my instincts took over on the day,†Trooper Donaldson said.

“I am very proud but also keen o get back to work and be with my mates.â€
Congratulations to Trooper Donaldson. This it what medals and awards are for, Heroes, not popping along.

Jimmy do you have a copy of the citation?

Nutty, see below. Impressive stuff.



For most conspicuous acts of gallantry in action in a circumstance of great peril in Afghanistan as part of the Special Operations Task Group during Operation SLIPPER, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

Trooper Mark Gregor Donaldson enlisted into the Australian Army on 18 June 2002. After completing Recruit and Initial and Employment Training he was posted to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. Having successfully completed the Special Air Service Selection Course in April 2004, Trooper Donaldson was posted to Special Air Service Regiment in May 2004.

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.

On subsequent occasions during the battle, Trooper Donaldson administered medical care to other wounded soldiers, whilst continually engaging the enemy.
Trooper Donaldson’s acts of exceptional gallantry in the face of accurate and sustained enemy fire ultimately saved the life of a coalition force interpreter and ensured the safety of the other members of the combined Afghan, US and Australian force. Trooper Donaldson’s actions on this day displayed exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril. His actions are of the highest accord and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Special Operations Command, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.
Absolutely outstanding!!!!!
Trooper Donaldson said he felt very privileged and overwhelmed at being awarded Australia’s highest military honour.

“I don’t see myself as a hero. I was in Afghanistan just doing my job. My training and my instincts took over on the day,†Trooper Donaldson said.

“I am very proud but also keen to get back to work and be with my mates.â€
An absolutely outstanding example of bravery and disregard for personal safety whilst ensuring the survival of his mates.
BZ Trooper Donaldson, we salute you.



War Hero
Blummin' Aussies, coming over here, meeting our Queen, taking our medals....mutter, mutter, etc.

Outstanding bravery & well deserved. You've earned a deserved, unbegrudged salute off me, Lofty. (No-one else ever has)
Strewth mate :D :D Well done from a pomey matelot :roll: Theirs a picture of you in todays Telegraph . At the ceremony in Canberra. Kissing your Sheila. Emma 8) B/Z
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