Australian soldier awarded Victoria Cross

ITN News

by ITN News

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A commando who stormed two Taliban machine gun positions and killed their gunners has become the second Australian to be awarded the British Commonwealth's highest military honour for his service in Afghanistan.

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross at a ceremony at his Special Air Service Regiment barracks in the Australian city of Perth.

Roberts-Smith's citation says he demonstrated conspicuous gallantry and daring during a battle last June in Kandahar against a Taliban force three times larger than his patrol.

As his patrol remained pinned down in an orchard by relentless enemy gunfire, 32-year-old Roberts-Smith stormed two of three enemy machine guns and killed their crews, his military record shows.

By breaking cover and charging the Taliban position, Roberts-Smith deliberately drew enemy machine gun fire away from his patrol and they were able to return fire.

He charged to within 65 feet of the enemy during the ensuing gunfight.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was among the dignitaries who attended the award ceremony.

"You went to Afghanistan a soldier, you came back a hero," she said.