For Valour - VC Awarded to Australian Digger

#1
Well done that man.

I do like the PM's quote:

"You don't need to be a religious person to understand the force of the words that greater love have no man than to lay down his life for his friends."
RAR soldier awarded Victoria Cross for Afghan valour - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) soldier who exposed himself to enemy fire to save his comrades during a deadly ambush in Afghanistan has been awarded the Victoria Cross at a ceremony in Canberra.
Corporal Daniel Keighran, who was serving with the 6th Battalion RAR, was recognised for his extreme bravery during the three-and-a-half hour battle which claimed the life of his mate Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney in August 2010.
The medal - Australia's highest military honour - was presented to Corporal Keighran by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Government House in Canberra this morning.

  • The Victoria Cross is the highest award for acts of bravery in wartime.
  • It was instituted in 1856 by Queen Victoria and made retrospective to 1854 to cover the Crimean War.
  • Before today 98 Australians had been awarded the Victoria Cross, dating back to the Boer War.
  • The separate Australia VC was gazetted in 1991.
  • However the design remains identical to the original British medal.
  • The last Australian soldier to win the VC was SAS Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith.
  • Read profiles of the Australian recipients of the Victoria Cross.



Corporal Keighran is the third Australian to receive the VC for actions while serving in Afghanistan, but the first non-special forces soldier.
The two previous Afghan war recipients - Corporal Mark Donaldson VC and Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC - were both members of the special forces.
The citation read out at today's ceremony said Corporal Keighran showed great bravery when a joint Australian-Afghan patrol came under attack in the village of Derapet, Uruzgan Province, on August 24, 2010.
"[The group] was engaged by a prolonged numerically superior and coordinated enemy attack by multiple firing points," it said.
"Corporal Keighran, with complete disregard for his own safety, broke cover on multiple occasions to draw intense and accurate enemy fire to identify enemy locations and direct return fire from Australian and Afghan fire support elements.
"During one of these occasions when his patrol sustained a casualty, again on his own initiative and in an act of exceptional courage, he moved from his position of cover to deliberately draw fire away from the team who were treating the casualty.
"Corporal Keighran remained exposed and under heavy fire in order to direct suppressing fire and then assist in the clearing of the landing zone to enable the evacuation of the casualty.
"These deliberate acts of exceptional courage to repeatedly expose himself to accurate and intense enemy fire, thereby placing himself in grave danger, ultimately enabled the identification and suppression of enemy firing positions."
The award is the 99th Victoria Cross to be awarded to an Australian soldier, and the third award since the Australian Victoria Cross was gazetted in 1991.
Defence Force Chief General David Hurley described how enemy bullets" bit into the dirt" at Corporal Keighran's feet as he broke cover.
"Battles are frightening, confusing and confronting yet there are also moments of crystal clarity," he said.
"From the moment the partner patrol entered the village of Derapet, it was engaged by insurgents from multiple positions.
"As we have heard, with little regard for his own safety, Corporal Daniel Keighran deliberately and repeatedly drew intense enemy fire away from other members of the patrol and despite the enemy [fire] biting into the dirt at his feet, he returned fire and provided critical information about the insurgents' positions.







Video: General David Hurley speaks at the VC ceremony (ABC News)

"The contact at Derapet was amongst the most intense we have witnessed in Afghanistan. Our diggers showed extraordinary bravery and dedication to duty," he added.
"Sadly, the contact at Derapet came at a cost. Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney was killed in action and Corporal Keighran deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire to assist with his comrade's evacuation."
General Hurley revealed that five Australians have now been decorated for their bravery during the battle.
Corporal Keighran, 29, said he was "extremely proud" to receive the honour, and paid tribute to his fellow soldiers.
Though few of us can fathom it, we see you there in your kit, thinking, running, drawing enemy fire, shepherding and leading, protecting others ahead of yourself again and again and again.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the boys with me that day. The support that they provided me was excellent," he said.
"It's as much theirs as it is mine."
Corporal Keighran, who is now in the Army Reserve and works in a gold mine at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, said he learned he would receive the VC in a letter delivered to him at the town's airport.
But he said he only told his wife the full story about the battle 13 days ago.
"It's not that I couldn't talk about it but I'm quite private in that regard and what we did overseas. It's for the boys and for me," he said.
"Obviously she's been brought into the loop now and let me say she wasn't impressed to start with, but it's all good now."
He said he had been a "good mate" of Corporal MacKinney.
Ms Bryce told Corporal Keighran she was delighted to award him the "precious medal".
[h=3]Victoria Cross by conflict[/h]Ninety-nine Australians have received the Victoria Cross, including newest recipient Corporal Daniel Keighran. Here is a breakdown of the number of VCs by conflict.

[TABLE]
[TR]
[TH]Conflict[/TH]
[TH]VCs[/TH]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Boer War[/TD]
[TD]6[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]First World War[/TD]
[TD]64[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]North Russia[/TD]
[TD]2 [SUP][1][/SUP][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Second World War[/TD]
[TD]20[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Vietnam[/TD]
[TD]4[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Afghanistan[/TD]
[TD]3[SUP][2][/SUP][/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

  1. Often counted in First World War figures
  2. Victoria Cross for Australia as of 1 November 2012

Source: Australian War Memorial


"We see a man of profound physical and moral strength, a man selfless in the face of threat, courageous in the face of terror, generous in the face of suffering and humble in the face of an honour bestowed," she said.
"Though few of us can fathom it, we see you there in your kit, thinking, running, drawing enemy fire, shepherding and leading, protecting others ahead of yourself again and again and again.
"Not until you are exhausted or too terrified to risk another move - but until the job was done."
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Vietnam VC winner Keith Payne, and Corporal Donaldson were all present at today's ceremony.
Ms Gillard told Corporal Keighran his actions represented the Australian spirit.
"You don't need to be a religious person to understand the force of the words that greater love have no man than to lay down his life for his friends," she said.
"You showed your preparedness to lay down your life for your mates."
Mr Abbott called said Corporal Keighran was among "the best of the best, the bravest of the brave".
Before today 98 Australian soldiers, in a line dating back to the Boer War of 1899-1902, had received the VC.
All Victoria Crosses are cast from the same cannon, captured from Russian forces during the Crimean War, and the one which was awarded to Corporal Keighran today only arrived from the jewellers in London this morning.
Corporal Keighran was serving in Afghanistan with 6RAR, which is based at Gallipoli Barracks in the Brisbane suburb of Enoggera.
He was born in Nambour, Queensland, in 1983, and joined the Army in 2000.
He served in East Timor and Iraq before his first tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007.
 
#6
When you look at American troop numbers that have been deployed since 2001, they have only awarded 6 MoH!...never thought I would say that the American medal awards system is holding more credibility.

I'm not saying the Digger doesn't deserve an award, but 3 VCs with a total troop commitment of 1000, not all in the combat role!
 
#8
This is the first Australian Afghan VC awarded to a non-special force soldier which makes it interesting as the majority of the pointy-stick going bang stuff is done by the special forces. The remainder are in mentoring and construction roles.

It is also interesting that on each of the three occasions where a VC has been awarded it has been where the recipient has exposed himself to danger in order to provide protection and/or to save his comrades rather than for a straight forward attack on the enemy.

As to the comparison between Australia and the UK I think the answer is political. Not in the sense of which party is governing but it has always appeared to me that whether the VC is awarded or not has more to do with other considerations than whether the deed itself merits the award.
 
#9
[snip]it has always appeared to me that whether the VC is awarded or not has more to do with other considerations than whether the deed itself merits the award.
There is [almost] always a political element in the awarding of gallantry medals (VCs for Rorke's Drift is a good example - very clear aim of getting the public's eye off the humiliating defeat at Isandhlwana).

That does not, and should not, take anything away from the simple courage shown by this bloke, nor the 24th of Foot at Rorke's Drift (hardly a Taff amongst them, remember).
 
#10
There is [almost] always a political element in the awarding of gallantry medals (VCs for Rorke's Drift is a good example - very clear aim of getting the public's eye off the humiliating defeat at Isandhlwana).

That does not, and should not, take anything away from the simple courage shown by this bloke, nor the 24th of Foot at Rorke's Drift (hardly a Taff amongst them, remember).
Stonker, I didn't mean to belittle the deeds of anyone who has been awarded the VC and if that is how you interpreted my post then I apologise for not making myself more clear. Clearly to deliberately and repeatedly draw enemy fire in order that your fellow troops can be rescued is bravery of the highest order.
 
#11
Stonker, I didn't mean to belittle the deeds of anyone who has been awarded the VC and if that is how you interpreted my post then I apologise for not making myself more clear. Clearly to deliberately and repeatedly draw enemy fire in order that your fellow troops can be rescued is bravery of the highest order.
Not having a pop at you: just reinforcing your original point.

I've made very unpopular observations before now, on Arrse, about the politics behind the awarding of [lesser] gongs.

I thought you were spot on, but felt the comment needed a bit of context.

Hope I didn't intrude.
 
#12
Must ask the question though...

Australia has made a small contribution in Afghan, a sixth the size of the UK, but has awarded soldiers three VCs compared to only one in the British Army......

Maybe, but the criteria for the award has not changed, just has become Australian.


Bravo Zulu to all VC awards and to all the ones who did not be recommended, they were all on the same award sheet and all well deserved.

Lest We forget
 
#13
Maybe, but the criteria for the award has not changed, just has become Australian.


Bravo Zulu to all VC awards and to all the ones who did not be recommended, they were all on the same award sheet and all well deserved.

Lest We forget
Don't let yourself get get lost in the romance of the VC. The criteria against which the award is made have had an element of elastic built in pretty much since day 1: see my comments above about Rorke's Drift.

And don't take this as me having a pop at its winners. It isn't. It's me having a pop at the buggers who - from the comfort of an office - apply themselves to choosing who-gets-what.
 
#15
Firstly, well done that man. He undoubtedly deserves a VC.

Secondly, it is interesting that the Australians seem to give far more medals (per capita) than the UK - not just VCs. It is disingenuous to say that, because they have some of the same awards as the UK and that both countries share a Queen, that direct comparison can be made. I don't think so.

Not only do Diggers get, in some cases, 3 medals for the same actions that would get a Brit only one, I think that the bar is lower for gallantry awards as well. There, I've said it. Flame me.

But remember my first point.
 
#17
As I understand it, the award is for an Australian Victoria Cross, gazetted in 1991, and eligible to the Australian Armed Forces only. Although presented by Her Majesty's Representative in Australia, on behalf of Her Majesty. It is therefore quite separate to the original Victoria Cross, but no less deserving for the actions of this brave man. For a country with such a small standing Army (although rapidly catching up in numbers with the British Army), Australia's commitment to Afghanistan should be applauded. I also believe that New Zealand also opted out of the British awards system and has its own equivalent Medal of valour for gallantry.

PS: I have also read somewhere that Victoria Crosses are no longer cast from the Bronze cannon captured at Crimea, but are probably cut from Chinese Cannon captured during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.

PPS: Could it have been in SOLDIER Magazine ?
 
#18
I also believe that New Zealand also opted out of the British awards system and has its own equivalent Medal of valour for gallantry.

QUOTE]

Partially true - Like Australia, NZ can award the Victoria Cross (New Zealand): same design, same criteria. One has been awarded for Kiwis in Afghanistan (Cpl Apirana, NZ SAS), pro rata about the same as the Diggers.
 

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