Shot NZ soldier had battlefield honour
Mon, 13 Aug 2012 6:01p.m.
By Patrick Gower
The commander who fought alongside Willie Apiata when he won his Victoria Cross has been in battle again, and shot.
3 News has been in contact with Major Craig Wilson, and gained exclusive insight into last week's battle in Afghanistan.
Although the Defence Force is playing it down, it seems another push for medals is on.
Major Wilson says he was only saved by what he describes as an extraordinary bit of soldiering.
Out training late last year, getting his unit ready for deployment to Afghanistan, Major Wilson said his team "want to train hard and we want to train for the likely situations we're going to find ourselves in".
That turned out to be a firefight in Afghanistan, where New Zealand troops were killed and injured.
Major Wilson was the commander and in the thick of it, shot in the shoulder near his neck and dragged to safety by Lance Coproral Rory Malone, who died going back to save another comrade.
In a statement from his hospital bed in Germany, Major Wilson praised the bravery of his soldiers.
"This initially came from our mates on the ground, who in some cases risked their own lives to get us out of immediate danger and provided immediate first aid."
L/Cpls Malone and Pralli Durrer were killed in a vicious three minutes of fighting.
"This battle was very fast, very complex, and came down to a pitched gunfight where the insurgent force had many advantages over us at that moment," says Major Wilson.
He is certainly qualified to comment. He already holds the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration from his time in the SAS. That has been secret until now; he won it as commander in the same battle where Willie Apiata won the Victoria Cross.
Major Wilson once described that battle like this: "The crucial thing was to win the firefight… as I opened fire they were firing back at me, and we later found that one armour-piercing round had actually passed between my legs and penetrated the fuel tank.
"I applied the old adage that the only way to make danger go away was to shoot at it."
Major Wilson is a career soldier, who in another role led the army's response to Christchurch's first big earthquake, and he suggests the brave deeds of the soldiers in the latest battle could be on a par with that of the SAS battle.
"I will continue working for my soldiers now and over the next while to ensure that they are accredited the respect and recognition that their actions in Bamyan deserve," he says.
It's clear Major Wilson believes his soldiers have once again done New Zealand proud.
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19/08/2012 9:54:23 p.m.
Lance Corporal M wrote:
People sometimes need to think a bit wider than they do. Why is anyone in Afghanistan - because a group of people trained there and then came to the West and killed 4000 civilians in New York. Even here in little old NZ we cannot assume we are too far away from this to be affected. What were East Timor, Solomon Islands about - failed states with a bunch of armed people committing murder in our Pacific, not to mention being very close to NZ and Austaralian shipping routes. I have been there.I new Malone well, joined the army with him in fact. He had that ability to think widely and he stood up for what he believed in. He didn't sit in his arm chair and criticise others. Deeds speak louder than words. Kia Kaha Rory, Onward.
14/08/2012 11:43:31 p.m.
Robert W wrote:
I suspect, people who criticise our Defence Forces are probably ignorant of the chain of command and how it works. Possibly people who have never had the opportunity of serving their country really dont understand.
Everyone in todays Military are volunteers, no one is conscripted these days. With the publicity given about our Army, Navy, Airforce by the media, they all know what to expect in their Military service.
Orders are orders when youre in the Military, decisions are handed down, originally from the Government of the day. We all understand that, thats why we signed up, we know what to expect. Expect the unexpected, thats what we are trained for. Civilians are unable to comprehend this.
We are just a big family and we all know what is required of us by our Commanders. Its called DUTY and thats why we signed up.
I agree with GMDs comments.
Godbless New Zealand.
14/08/2012 11:50:01 a.m.
"Kelvyn" misses the point rather badly. Our soldiers aren't there of their own behest - the why and wherefore is for the politicians to debate.
Kelvyn fails to put himself in the predicament these soldiers found themselves in. If you're surrounded and under fire, what do you think they're gonna do? I'd be firing too!
14/08/2012 12:37:43 a.m.
What a good man Craig Wilson is, the same cut as my company commander, Bill Pike during the early 60s.
Just like you Craig, Bill made us feel like we were all an important part of our Battalion. He should have been a General. We were all proud of him and respected him greatly. I think you have those same attributes Craig.
The son of one of my mates in our Battalion is now a Lt Col in our Regiment and it goes without saying, tho i dont know him, im very proud of him, to represent us old guys. Godbless you Stefan. We've been there before.
Craig, dont listen to the negatives, we are all proud of you all, Kiwis are the best soldiers in the world and highly respected in the world military family.
Godbless New Zealand.
13/08/2012 11:31:27 p.m.
This story is sad. It is all emotive comic book stuff. To quote Major Wilson "I applied the old adage that the only way to make danger go away was to shoot at it." That is sad. This person was shot and wounded and two others were tragically killed. The game is not worth the candle. Get these people out of Afghanistan and let them run around Waiouru where they should be safe. To quote someone whos' name escapes me..."Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel". Let these people play out their little war games, but do it somewhere safe.
13/08/2012 10:56:02 p.m.
Just a contextual correction to the article. Armed service personnel do not win medals - they receive them and are then considered, decorated.
13/08/2012 8:31:23 p.m.
Why is New Zealand even taking part in this waste of time war?? I thought we were supposed to be a peace-keeping country!?!
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