Money raised for wounded NZ-born soldier
A former Queenstown man who lost both his legs in an explosion while serving with the Australian Army has a long road to recovery, but more than NZ$35,000 donated to a trust will help him on his way.
Former Wakatipu High School pupil Curtis McGrath, 24, is lucky to be alive after he and three other soldiers were wounded by a bomb which was set off in Afghanistan's Uruzgan province last month.
It is understood that McGrath, a sapper with the 6th Engineer Support Regiment, along with the other soldiers, were taking part in operations with the Afghan National Security Force when the incident occurred on August 23.
McGrath was the most seriously wounded, and was airlifted to Kandahar before being transferred to a hospital in Germany.
A picture posted on Facebook yesterday has shown him in much better spirits however, minus his legs, in hospital.
It is understood McGrath has been brought back to Brisbane, where his family lives.
And the man known to his soldier friends as "Kiwi", was making a slow and steady recovery.
A dedicated donation page set up in McGrath's name has already raised NZ$35,102, with one donation coming in at NZ$2399.
Ryan Werts, who posted the picture of McGrath on the Support the Australian Soldiers Facebook page, said it was important to raise "maximum awareness".
"…Help out a bloke who would do absolutely anything for someone else in his situation."
McGrath's former high school teachers have described him as someone always willing to help others.
When McGrath was in Year 13, he and another student lead the charge in helping find another pupil who had gotten lost on a tramping expedition.
Wakatipu outdoor education teacher Ken McIntyre said last month, McGrath was first to offer help at an incident in the Rockburn Valley when one of his Year 13 pupils went missing on a tramping expedition.
Traversing challenging terrain, McGrath and another classmate scaled down from a ridge to the river and back again, calling out to the missing tramper while McIntyre climbed up to a peak where he knew there was cell coverage.
"We're talking about something that normally takes two hours to get down. It's hard, it's really hard. They were down and back in 40 minutes. I couldn't bloody believe it: they were fit," he told the Southland Times.
The Australian Defence Department would not comment on whether McGrath had returned to Brisbane, citing privacy.
- © Fairfax NZ News