A Far North soldier has been awarded the Defence Meritorious Service Medal for services in Iraq, in recognition of his military professionalism and leadership.
Corporal Charles Douglas Munns-Everitt is one of three New Zealand soldiers to be decorated for his response to a rocket attack on Camp Taji, which killed two Americans and a British medic, and wounded 17 more, none of them New Zealanders, on March 10 last year.
Munns-Everitt, who will celebrate his 29th birthday on Wednesday next week, the older of twins (by 45 minutes), is married with two children and currently serving at Burnham. He was born in Raglan but moved to Te Kao with his mother, Lisa Everitt, and family when he was 18 months old.
"My now husband George Everitt became Dad to our three awesome children," Lisa said.
"Charlie and his siblings went to school in Te Hapua for a while, then Te Kao, later Kaitaia College."
He had always wanted to be a police officer or in the Army, right from a young age, she said, and the Army won. He began military prep with ATC, in Kaitaia, with Shane Harrison and Will Murray, and the late Sergeant Aroha Beatson, and, after graduation, joined the Army. He had since been deployed to Timor, the Solomon Islands and Iraq, where, in March last year, he was Section Commander of the Quick Reaction Force of the Task Group that was responsible for camp security at Taji, where, on the night of March 10 last year, an indirect fire attack saw at least 29 rockets explode, resulting in mass casualties, large fires and unexploded weapons littering the camp.
Corporal Munns-Everitt was going to bed, preparing to be up at midnight for patrol, when the attack came at about 7.30pm.
"At first you don't think it's real because you do so much training, but within seconds you realise what is happening," he said.
He ran to a bunker and ensured his section were all there, then ventured out into the camp, finding casualties almost immediately.
"We found three wounded soldiers, two in a rather bad way. The third had taken a lot of shrapnel and was in a lot of shock," he said.
They treated the wounded, and began CPR on one, but were unable to save him.
Munns-Everitt led his section throughout the night, clearing areas where power lines were sparking, buildings were on fire, vehicles were leaking petrol, and marking spots where unexploded weapons/rockets had fallen.
'Mettle tested on a regular basis'
Corporal Charles Douglas Munns-Everitt's citation stated that he had led his section at Taji during a period of unprecedented complexity and threat.
"The mettle of the Quick Reaction Force was tested on a regular basis, but no more so than in the aftermath of the indirect fire attack on the night of March 10, 2020. Multiple direct hits on accommodation and workplaces saw a mass casualty situation transpire, compounded by numerous large fires in building that suffered direct hits and unexploded ordnance littering the camp.
"Corporal Munns... provided calm and assured leadership, managing the triage and treatment of wounded and securing locations where deceased personnel had fallen, whilst personally searching for and marking potential locations of unexploded rockets.
"From pre-deployment training until his return to New Zealand, Corporal Munns' outstanding military professionalism and leadership proved invaluable in the successful execution of what was an exceptional operational deployment. He was awarded a commendation from the Australian Commander of the Task Group, and was held in the utmost regard by the soldiers he led, his peers and his superiors."