Apiata named Victoria Cross Trust patron

08:26, Jan 31 2013
Corporal Willie Apiata.
Corporal Willie Apiata.

The London-based Victoria Cross Trust has named former New Zealand Special Air Services corporal Willie Apiata as a patron of the organisation.

In a tweet the organisation says the Victoria Cross holder, who is now a civilian, "supports our work and becomes a patron".

The trust is dedicated to looking after the graves of Victoria Cross holders who died but are not in Commonwealth war graves.

"The responsibility for the upkeep of graves belonging to VC recipients, who died in other conflicts or of old age, lies with their relatives," the site says.

"Many of these burial plots have fallen into disrepair and suffer from neglect. Families and relatives have dwindled or died out and sometimes the descendants are unaware that they exist, or they simply cannot afford to maintain them." Apiata, now 40, won his VC in action in Afghanistan in 2004 for rescuing a colleague under fire.

"In total disregard of his own safety, Lance Corporal Apiata stood up and lifted his comrade bodily," the citation says.

"He then carried him across the 70 metres of broken, rocky and fire-swept ground, fully exposed in the glare of battle to heavy enemy fire and into the face of returning fire from the main troop position. That neither he nor his colleague were hit is scarcely possible."