Corporal Mark Donaldson VC [previously Trooper], of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment, was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia for his actions during a prolonged gun battle with the Taliban in Uruzgan province, in southern Afghanistan, in September 2008.
Donaldson was a member of a combined (Australian, American, and Afghan) Special Forces patrol ambushed by the Taliban and pinned down by machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades. The contact lasted more than two hours, during which several of the SF soldiers were wounded. On numerous occasions, to draw fire away from the wounded men, Donaldson broke cover and exposed himself to attack from the well dug-in Taliban positions, darting from cover to cover, firing as he went. Part of his Victoria Cross citation reads: “This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.”
As the wounded soldiers were being evacuated in armoured Humvees, Donaldson ran alongside the vehicles, as there was no room for him. As he did this, he spotted a severely wounded Afghan interpreter who had been left behind. Donaldson ran across approximately 80 metres of open ground, lifted the injured man, and carried him to safety, all the time under heavy, constant fire from the Taliban. During the withdrawal, Donaldson gave first aid to the wounded as he continued to fire on the Taliban. All the men he helped rescue survived.