Deadly battle: 'Very fast' - soldier

By Kieran Campbell

Major Craig Wilson has described the pitched Afghanistan attack that killed two New Zealand soldiers. Photo / NZDF
Major Craig Wilson has described the pitched Afghanistan attack that killed two New Zealand soldiers. Photo / NZDF

Lance Corporal Rory Malone reportedly dragged his commanding officer to safety before he was killed trying to help another comrade during a fierce gun battle in Afghanistan.

Major Craig Wilson, the officer in command of New Zealand troops when Lance Corporals Malone and Pralli Durrer were killed on August 4, was wounded in the battle he described as "very fast, very complex".

Lance Corporal Malone was shot dead as he went to the aid of a soldier after reportedly helping Major Wilson, who was one of six New Zealand Defence Force personnel wounded in the gunfight at Bamiyan on August 4.

"We have tried to be as strong as possible," Major Wilson said from Germany today.

"This battle was very fast, very complex and came down to a pitched gunfight where the insurgent force had many advantages over us at that moment.

"The full story is yet to be pieced together,'' he said in a statement.

TV3 reported that Corporal Malone pulled Major Wilson to safety before returning to help another soldier.

Major Wilson suffered wounds to his lungs, ribs, collarbone and shoulderbone, causing artery and tissue damage.

He has no use of his right arm but doctors expect him to regain "some, if not all function".

Many months of rehabilitation will begin when he returns to New Zealand.

"Judging by the nature of my wounds, my days as an operational soldier are probably over," Major Wilson said. "But I will continue working for my soldiers now and over the next while to ensure that they are accredited with the respect and recognition that their actions in Bamiyan deserve."

Kiwi Company came to the support of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), who were under attack by insurgents.

Two NDS staff were killed and 11 were injured, including one civilian.

Major Wilson, a married father-of-three from Burnham, received the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration (NZGD) in 2007 for his services in Afghanistan three years earlier.

The NZGD is granted in recognition of ``acts of exceptional gallantry in situations of danger'' and is the third highest level of military decoration of the New Zealand armed forces.

Major Wilson also fought alongside Corporal Willie Apiata in the battle that saw the highly decorated soldier awarded the Victoria Cross.

Major Wilson said he was proud of the way Lance Corporals Durrer and Malone had been honoured in New Zealand since their bodies were returned last week.

He hoped to meet the families of the fallen soldiers when he returned home.

"While this was a major combat engagement, it is what our men and women work and train for," he said.

"I know Kiwi Company will have continued on committed to their work in Afghanistan because they are a professional group, and that's what soldiers do."

Major Wilson praised the many people who had supported New Zealand troops during and after the battle.

He said the Dutch, German and American medics "treated us like their own countrymen".

Major Wilson said military leaders and staff on home soil "have made us feel as though heaven and earth is being moved to keep us supported and getting us home to our families quickly, where we all want to be".

- APNZ

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