Lance Corporal Rory Malone, 26, died a hero, gunned down in Afghanistan after saving the life of his commanding officer.

Today, he will be posthumously honoured with a New Zealand Government gallantry award.

Lance Corporal Malone was mortally wounded on August 4, 2012 moments after assisting his wounded commanding officer, Major Craig Wilson, to shelter.

Malone had been assigned to one of four patrols responding to a call for help from the Afghan secret police, who had come under fire while trying to detain a bombmaker in the treacherous, remote Baghak Valley.

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They were on the ground for about six hours before commanding officer Major Craig Wilson arrived.

According to details given to the Herald on Sunday by his family, while Malone was briefing Wilson, he saw an insurgent and started shooting at him over Wilson's shoulder.

Wilson suffered a gunshot wound to an artery in his arm and, bleeding heavily, was dragged to the back of the Humvee by an unnamed officer and Malone, who had also taken a bullet in the leg.

Then, for some reason, Malone got out of the Humvee.

"I don't know if he was ordered to do that or not," his brother Pete Malone said.

Seconds later, he was fatally wounded by a 7.62mm-calibre round, shot from an insurgent's AK47.

He died almost instantly - leaving his mother, Helen Thomasen, his five brothers, sister and his partner, fellow soldier Kate Johnston, in mourning.

The battle left another Kiwi soldier dead and six wounded - two by friendly fire.

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An unedited video of the battle, leaked to the Herald on Sunday, showed "utter chaos".

"It's incredible they didn't all die," Pete Malone said.

"Lance Corporal Rory Malone gave his life in the service of New Zealand," Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee said.

"His sacrifice, and that of other personnel who lost their lives, must never be forgotten."

The Government Special Honours List of four gallantry awards was announced today.

Three of the awards, including an award of the Distinguished Service Decoration, were earned in Afghanistan and one in South Sudan.

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"The core values of the NZDF are courage, commitment and comradeship.

"These personnel have exemplified those values. I am proud of them all."

Alongside the Government Special Honours List of four gallantry awards, the Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, announced three awards for Distinguished and Meritorious Service in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Samuel Tobias Millar will be honoured for meritorious service during the incidents in Bamyan Province, Afghanistan on 4, 5 and 19 August 2012.

Captain (then Lieutenant) Peter Ryan Hutson will be Awarded the DMSM for meritorious service as a patrol commander in Afghanistan over the period May to July 2012.

And Trooper James Ewen Baldwin will be Awarded a Chief of Defence Force's Commendation for his gallant actions at Baghak on August 4, 2012.

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