This is a truly historic day. Trooper Donaldson’s bravery will forever be engraved in Australian history. Generations of school children will now know of the story of Trooper Mark Donaldson.
It is a story all Australians should know. It is a story of a hero – one which will be told in classrooms, workplaces and watering holes for many years to come.
Trooper Donaldson’s courage and selflessness in the face of such unspeakable danger is not only a great tribute to him and his family; it epitomises the spirit of the Aussie digger.
The soldiers that he saved will be forever indebted to him. The nation will be forever indebted to him.
Trooper Donaldson received the award for his actions in Afghanistan on September 2 last year, when, under heavy fire, he ran 80 metres to save an interpreter for the coalition forces and carried him to safety under sustained and accurate shooting.
The Victoria Cross is the highest possible award for acts of bravery in wartime, ahead of the Military Cross. Queen Victoria instituted the award in 1856 and made it retrospective to cover the Crimean War.
It is 40 years since a Victoria Cross was presented to an Australian. The last Victoria Cross (Imperial) was awarded on 24 May 1969, to Warrant Officer Keith Payne VC OAM for gallantry during the Vietnam War.
In 1991 the Victoria Cross for Australia replaced the Imperial Victoria Cross.
22nd Jan. 2009