Kiwis killed in 'fast and complex' fight
A decorated Kiwi soldier injured in a fatal attack in Afghanistan says the battle was fast and complex, coming down to a "pitched gunfight".
Major Craig Wilson, in a statement released today, thanked the public, New Zealand troops and other Defence Force staff for their support following the attack that killed soldiers Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer and Lance Corporal Rory Malone in the province of Bamiyan on August 4.
Wilson, who formerly served with the SAS, and was the officer commanding the team who went to aid Afghan police, was one of six soldiers injured.
He was shot in the shoulder and received multiple wounds to his lungs, ribs, collarbone, shoulder-bone as well as artery and tissue damage. Though all of his wounds have been treated, Wilson has months of rehabilitation ahead of him to regain function of his right arm. He said judging by the nature of his wounds, his days as an operational solider were probably over.
"But 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 Bamiyan deserve," he said.
"While this was a major combat engagement, it is what our men and women work and train for."
Wilson said the attack earlier this month was "very fast, very complex and came down to a pitched gunfight where the insurgent force had many advantages over us".
"The full story is yet to be pieced together," he said.
"I, and the other wounded look forward to formally [pass] to the New Zealand Defence Force, at the appropriate time on our return, the knowledge and detail of this battle that we possess."
Wilson said the injured soldiers were incredibly pleased at the way Durrer, of Christchurch, and Malone, of Auckland, were farewelled at a military service at Christchurch's Burnham Military Camp on Saturday.
"We are thinking of Rory and Pralli and it gave us great comfort to see them appropriately honoured.
"Our first thoughts are with the families of Pralli and Rory and I look forward to meeting the families in person on my return to New Zealand.
"I appreciate the support being provided to the families of our fallen, which I know will be coming from so many compassionate people in the country we serve and love.
Wilson said the public's support was "really important to us, especially when times get tough".
"With regard to the other injured men, I have been very proud of their conduct. We have tried to be as strong as possible. I am sure I speak for us all when I talk about the support we have received.
"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. Then from our medics – who have been consummate professionals all tour and stood up yet again.
"Finally, from our headquarters and support personnel who brought all the external support to bear that we needed; who made the best of what was an incredibly difficult situation; and, as always, made the troops on the ground feel supported."
Wilson also praised the coalition troops who responded, particularly the MEDEVAC helicopter pilots and crews who were some of the "most skilled and brave unsung heroes".
"Thanks also goes to the many coalition medical teams through the chain of evacuation that in some cases saved our lives. In all cases they made us feel safe and secure.
"The public of New Zealand should know that these Dutch, German and American medical teams treated us like their own countrymen, working tirelessly and with great skill."
He said the injured soldiers looked forward to reuniting with friends and family and getting the medical treatment finalised.
Wilson has a New Zealand Gallantry Decoration, the third highest level military decoration of the armed forces. The medal is granted in recognition of "acts of exceptional gallantry in situations of danger" while involved in war and warlike operational service.
Wilson is a married father of three, who lives in Burnham. He received the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration (NZGD) in 2007 for events while service with the SAS in Afghanistan in 2004.
The NZGD is the third highest level military decoration of the armed forces. The medal is granted in recognition of "acts of exceptional gallantry in situations of danger" while involved in war and warlike operational service.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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