1 Oct 2011

Four soldiers honoured for bravery in Afghanistan

5:07 pm on 1 October 2011

Four members of the New Zealand Army have been decorated for their service in Afghanistan in Gallantry Awards in this year's Special Honours List.

Three of the soldiers were part of patrol led by Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell that was hit by an improvised explosive device in Bamyan Province in August 2010.

Lieutenant O'Donnell was killed when the lead vehicle he was travelling in, an armoured Humvee, was destroyed in the blast.


Corporal Albert Moore, Lance Corporal Allister Baker and Corporal Matthew Ball were in the convoy.

Corporal Moore was the commander of the rear vehicle of the four-vehicle Provincial Reconstruction Team patrol.

The attack lasted 35 minutes, during which time Corporal Moore pulled back his vehicle to establish a base at a nearby house from which to support the patrol's withdrawal, the Defence Force says.

Of the two remaining vehicles, one was able to reach the base, while the other was immobilised by small arms fire 30 metres from the base.

Recognising that the patrol were exposed and needed air support, Corporal Moore got back in his vehicle and, under continuous fire, drove 30 metres to the immobilised vehicle to get communications equipment.


He went back twice more, to get a machine gun and ammunition, still under enemy fire, and was struck on the shoulder by shrapnel.

The two surviving members of the lead vehicle, Lance Corporal Baker and Corporal Ball, made radio contact and advised that they were wounded, that Lieutenant O'Donnell had been killed, and they were pinned down by enemy fire in a dry creek bed.

Corporal Moore drove 350 metres under fire to collect the two wounded soldiers who were taken back to the patrol's base for medical treatment.

Corporal Moore has been awarded the NZ Gallantry Star, which is one level below the Victoria Cross, and is given for acts of outstanding gallantry in situations of danger.

Lance Corporal Baker and Corporal Ball received the next level, the NZ Gallantry Decoration.

Corporal Ball said he did not expect such an award and felt mixed emotions in light of what happened, though "overall, it's pretty good."

Their commanding officer, Colonel John Boswell, said the gallantry the three displayed that day was truly worthy of recognition, adding the performance of the entire patrol was of the highest standard.

The fourth soldier, Warrant Officer Class Two Denis Wanihi, has been awarded the NZ Gallantry Medal, the following level, for his work dealing with and responding to incidents involving explosive devices.

Defence Minister pays tribute

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp has paid tribute to the four soldiers.

He says the nation asks its young men and women to go on dangerous operations and when people serve beyond the call of duty to save their comrades we should recognise it.

"They say they are just doing their job but you and I and other New Zealanders know they're doing way more than that - they're doping things that very few people would have the courage and fortitude to do."