An Australian member of the Special Air Service Regiment, Corporal Ben, has received the Victoria Cross For Australia, the nation’s highest military honor. In October 2010, the SAS launched an assault against a large group of Taliban fighters who were moving to attack Australian and Afghan forces. The troops flew into action on U.S. Blackhawk helicopters, but on landing were immediately pinned down by three heavy machine guns.
As a result of a previous action in December 2006, Corporal Ben had already won the Medal for Gallantry. In that battle, Australian forces killed over 60 Taliban with small arms fire and in hand to hand combat. The Corporal himself “tore a Taliban fighter off his back like an insect, stood on his throat and shot him dead.”
But the situation in October was even more grim. The Corporal, who stands six and a half feet tall and is also an SAS sniper, charged directly into the machine gun fire, destroyed all three enemy positions, and killed numerous Taliban fighters. His comrades said it was the most extreme example of gallantry in the Australian forces in the past hundred years, and Corporal Ben is now Australian’s most decorated soldier in decades.
The collaboration between U.S. and Australian forces that launched this combined operation is important, both because it shows the capabilities of well-funded, professional militaries, and because it demonstrates the value of the close cooperation of the English-speaking peoples that over the last century has done so much for freedom. But above all, it is for Americans a welcome reminder of the steadfast courage of our Australian allies, courage that deserves our respect and our admiration.