In an ideal world, resources are limitless. There's always enough troops, tanks, guns, air support to make sure any enemy that appears will be instantly dealt with. In an ideal world, intelligence about the enemy is perfect: we know where he is, and in what strength, and with what capabilities.
But then, in an ideal world, there'd be no need for warfare.
In reality, no battle-plan ever survives contact with the enemy. In reality, no matter how good the planning, how adequate the resources seem to be, sometimes the enemy does not co-operate. And no matter how careful you are, sometimes stuff-ups, even stuff-ups of monumental proportions, happen. That is when Men, and Women too, may be called upon to preform acts of uncommon bravery. Acts which they know full well may mean their chances of survival are nil. Most such medals are awarded posthumously.
From The Australian :
Trooper Donaldson was serving with the SAS in Oruzgan in Afghanistan on September 2 last year when his unit was hit by an ambush, wounding nine Australians."Greater Love Hath No Man...". But the motto of the SASR is "Who Dares, Wins", and sometimes, not often, but sometimes, they even get to survive too. Being confronted with someone like Trooper Donaldson on the other side is quite enough to give anyone the screaming heeby-jeebies. Sheer courage on one person's part can make them shoot carefully, in a disciplined and effective manner, no matter how many bullets are flying nearby. And the other side starts to panic as this guy appears to bear a charmed life, and is picking them off methodically, no matter how many bullets they spray in his direction. They have to spray, because if they pause to aim, he gets them first, in unhurried, professional 3-round bursts.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous acts of gallantry in a circumstance of great peril”, according to the citation.
“During a prolonged and effective enemy ambush on numerous occasions he deliberately drew the enemy’s fire in order to allow wounded soldiers to be moved to safety.
“As the battle raged around him he saw that a coalition force interpreter was lying motionless on exposed ground.
“With complete disregard for his own safety, on his initiative and alone, Trooper Donaldson ran back 80 metres across exposed ground to rescue the interpreter and carry him back to vehicle.
“Trooper Donaldson then rejoined his patrol and continued to engage the enemy while remaining exposed to heavy enemy fire.”
His citation said he "displayed exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril" and saved the life of the interpreter.
Such people are very, very, very scary to go up against. Such people really do risk their lives to help their mates, even mates who are from different countries.
From the Sydney Morning Herald :
The combined Afghan, United States and Australian convoy came under sustained machine-gun fire and attack from rocket-propelled grenades when it was ambushed in Oruzgan Province.Australia values such exploits highly. Not some military "Glory", for unlike some nations, Australia finds none of that in warfare. But "Helping one's mates", yes, that is what we prize the most. Always have done, it's part of the national psyche.
A Defence Force citation reports the coalition patrol suffered numerous casualties and "completely lost the initiative".
Early on, Trooper Donaldson engaged the enemy with anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle.
In order to draw attention away from wounded soldiers he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire.
"This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety," the citation states.
As the coalition vehicles moved four kilometres out of the engagement area, Trooper Donaldson was forced to run next to them because wounded soldiers occupied all the seats.
Once clear, the troops realised a severely-wounded coalition interpreter had been left behind.
"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."
He came under "intense and accurate" machine-gun fire.
After reaching the interpreter, Trooper Donaldson carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles, and provided first aid before returning to the fight.
It took more than two hours for the convoy to escape from enemy fire.
The most recent Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross was Warrant Officer Keith Payne VC OAM in 1969 for gallantry during the Vietnam War. Under heavy enemy fire Warrant Officer Payne instigated a daring rescue of more than 40 men, many of them wounded, and led the party back to the battalion base.And finally, from the ABC :
Along with Mr Payne, the only other surviving Australian VC recipient is Victorian Edward Kenna, who won his award for service in New Guinea in 1945.
NAOMI WOODLEY: The rescued interpreter has made a full recovery, but despite all of the accolades Trooper Donaldson says he doesn't see himself as a hero.And two more very, very brave people.
MARK DONALDSON: Every single one of those soldiers that are there serving for the nation are heroes and they should all be thanked and they should all be seen as heroes for that.
KEITH PAYNE: I'm absolutely delighted that we have a live one (laughs). In a party like his, your chances of coming out alive are pretty negative.I think I might, just, be able to do what Trooper Donaldson did. Except I'd almost certainly muck it up and get myself killed for nothing. But I know that if it was my partner, there's no way I could do what Emma Donaldson is doing.
NAOMI WOODLEY: Trooper Donaldson says he hopes to return to Afghanistan later this year. His wife, Emma Donaldson says she expects nothing less.
EMMA DONALDSON: He was married to the army before he married me and I support him all the way. So I'm happy to always keep the home front organised and just wait for his return.