Fallen soldier Rory Malone's mum pays tribute to him after 'long painful wait' for recognition
The mother of Lance Corporal Rory Malone has paid tribute to her "brave loving sensitive boy" who today received one of the military's highest honours.
Malone was posthumously awarded the Gallantry Medal, one of eight Defence Force members recognised in this year's special honours list.
Malone rushed into enemy fire to help save his company commander Major Craig Wilson after his provincial reconstruction team that was ambushed by insurgents in the remote Baghak Valley in 2012.
Malone is the great-great grandson of Taranaki WWI hero, Lieutenant-Colonel William George Malone who died after leading his Kiwi troops to the summit of the strategic hill Chunuk Bair.
Helen Thomasen, Rory's mother, said it had been a "long painful wait" for her son to be recognised.
"I am very proud of Rory and what he did, to have his heroic act recognised is wonderful its been a long painful wait.
"He was a brave loving sensitive boy with a wonderful sense of humour and we miss him so much he deserved so much better in his short life a medal will never make up for the devastation we feel as a family but it helps. I love him so much."
On August 4 2012, amidst the pounding of enemy bullets, Malone made a snap decision to launch himself from the shelter of his Humvee vehicle to protect his wounded Company Commander who had fallen under fire.
With the help of another officer, Malone dragged Major Wilson through the fire fight to the rear entry of the vehicle for aid.
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He then stayed outside returning fire, giving cover to his mates, but in clear view of Afghan insurgents.
He suffered his first gunshot wound to his right hip, a bullet his body-armour could not stop.
Wilson was stabilised and the driver of Malone's vehicle made for the team's Casualty Collection Point.
With Malone still on the outside of the Humvee, there was no space for him to scramble into the vehicle.
Injured from his hip wound, Malone was forced to move himself along the outside of the Humvee to get to shelter, leaving himself open to more enemy fire.
It was at the moment he reached for the vehicle's door that he was shot in the chest by an insurgent bullet and killed.
Lance Corporal Malone, 26, son, brother and partner from West Auckland was gunned down and killed protecting his brothers in arms.
Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer, 26, from Canterbury, was also killed during the firefight and died alongside Malone. Another six Kiwi soldiers were wounded.
Three years have passed since Malone was killed in action during the "Battle of Baghak" in Afghanistan.
On Thursday, Malone's life will be honoured with the New Zealand Gallantry Medal for his heroic efforts which saved and protected the lives of his Commander and fellow officers.
Clerk of the Executive Council, Michael Webster said throughout the battle Malone showed both gallantry and comradeship in providing assistance and covering fire to the wounded while in positions exposed to insurgent fire.
The Battle of Baghak was the subject of a major court of inquiry in 2013.