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Cpl. Ben Roberts-Smith VC

  • January 23rd, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

ben-roberts-smith-vc.jpgThe winner of the Victoria Cross has been named as Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, decorated today at the headquarters of his unit, the Special Air Service (SAS), in Perth.

He is one of two Australian soldiers to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the current war in Afghanistan; the other is Corporal Mark Donaldson, also from the SAS. See Euaustralia Online, “Second Australian VC …”, 21.1.11.

roberts-smith-family.jpgThe presentation was made by the Governor General, Quentin Bryce, in the presence of leaders in government, the parliament, and armed forces; also family members including his wife Emma and two infant twin daughters, Eva and Elizabeth.

Corporal Roberts-Smith, 32, is from an Army family; the son of Major General Leonard Roberts-Smith.

He commented today on the action for which he was nominated for the Victoria Cross.

“I just looked across and saw my mates getting ripped up,” he said.

“I just decided to move forward because I wasn’t going to sit there and do nothing …”

The following is the text of the citation document.

Australian Army

Awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia

Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG

Citation

For the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as Patrol Second-in-Command, Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.

Corporal Benjamin Roberts Smith enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 1996. After completing the requisite courses, he was posted the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment where he saw active service in East Timor. In January 2003, he successfully completed the Australian Special Air Service Regiment Selection Course.

During his tenure with the Regiment, he deployed on Operation VALIANT, SLATE, SLIPPER, CATALYST and SLIPPER II. Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his actions in Afghanistan in 2006.

On the 11th June 2010, a troop of the Special Operations Task Group conducted a helicopter assault into Tizak, Kandahar Province, in order to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander.

Immediately upon the helicopter insertion, the troop was engaged by machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from multiple, dominating positions. Two soldiers were wounded in action and the troop was pinned down by fires from three machine guns in an elevated fortified position to the south of the village. Under the cover of close air support, suppressive small arms and machine gun fire, Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol manoeuvred to within 70 metres of the enemy position in order to neutralise the enemy machine gun positions and regain the initiative.

Upon commencement of the assault, the patrol drew very heavy, intense, effective and sustained fire from the enemy position. Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol members fought towards the enemy position until, at a range of 40 metres, the weight of fire prevented further movement forward. At this point, he identified the opportunity to exploit some cover provided by a small structure.

As he approached the structure, Corporal Roberts Smith identified an insurgent grenadier in the throes of engaging his patrol. Corporal Roberts Smith instinctively engaged the insurgent at point-blank range resulting in the death of the insurgent. With the members of his patrol still pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his patrol, which enabled them to bring fire to bear against the enemy. His actions enabled his Patrol Commander to throw a grenade and silence one of the machine guns. Seizing the advantage, and demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry, Corporal Roberts Smith, with a total disregard for his own safety, stormed the enemy position killing the two remaining machine gunners.

His act of valour enabled his patrol to break-in to the enemy position and to lift the weight of fire from the remainder of the troop who had been pinned down by the machine gun fire. On seizing the fortified gun position, Corporal Roberts Smith then took the initiative again and continued to assault enemy positions in depth during which he and another patrol member engaged and killed further enemy. His acts of selfless valour directly enabled his troop to go on and clear the village of Tizak of Taliban. This decisive engagement subsequently caused the remainder of the Taliban in Shah Wali Kot District to retreat from the area.

Corporal Roberts Smith’s most conspicuous gallantry in a circumstance of extreme peril was instrumental to the seizure of the initiative and the success of the troop against a numerically superior enemy force. His valour was an inspiration to the soldiers with whom he fought alongside and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Reference

Department of Defence – Australia, Canberra, “Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith VC, MG”, 23.1.11. http://www.defence.gov.au/special_events/Roberts-Smith/index.htm, (23.1.11).

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