TROOPER MARK DONALDSON VC, AUSTRALIAN SPECIAL AIR SERVICE REGIMENT, HAS LOANED HIS 'VICTORIA CROSS FOR AUSTRALIA' TO THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL.
22 January 2009

Mark Donaldson, who has recently been awarded the 'Victoria Cross for Australia' for heroic action in Afghanistan, has decided to loan his Victoria Cross to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The Director of the AWM, Steve Gower, said "For Mark Donaldson to loan his VC to the Australian War Memorial so soon after its presentation is an incredibly generous offer and we are delighted to accept his VC and place it on public display."


( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Trooper Mark Donaldson
Australian Special Air Service Regiment
  • Victoria Cross for Australia
  • Australian Active Service Medal ( 1975- )
    • 1 clasp: 'ICAT'
  • Afghanistan Medal ( 2004 )
  • Australian Defence Medal ( 2006 )
  • NATO Medal ( 2007 )
    • clasp: 'ISAF' ( Afghanistan )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal ( 2012 )


A VICTORIA CROSS FOR AUSTRALIA HAS BEEN AWARDED TO TROOPER MARK DONALDSON, A MEMBER OF AUSTRALIA'S SPECIAL AIR SERVICE REGIMENT, FOR HEROIC ACTION IN AFGHANISTAN.
16 January 2009



It has been announced that the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Ms Quentin Bryce, has been pleased to confer the 'Victoria Cross for Australia' on Trooper Mark Donaldson of the Special Air Service Regiment for heroic action in Afghanistan.

Mark Donaldson was invested with his Victoria Cross by her Excellency the Governor General at Government House, Canberra, on Friday, 16th January 2009.


[ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 16 January 2009 ] Operation Slipper, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, 2 September 2008, Trooper Mark Gregor Donaldson, Australian Special Air Service Regiment.

On 2 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, Trooper Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy that was engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. The Ambush was initiated by a high volume of sustained machine gun fire coupled with the effective use of rocket propelled grenades. Such was the effect of the initiation that the combined patrol suffered numerous casualties, completely lost the initiative and became immediately suppressed. It was over two hours before the convoy was able to establish a clean break and move to an area free of enemy fire.

In the early stages of the ambush, Trooper Donaldson reacted spontaneously to regain the initiative. He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle. During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers. This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.

As the enemy had employed the tactic of a rolling ambush, the patrol was forced to conduct numerous vehicle manoeuvres, under intense enemy fire, over a distance of approximately four kilometres to extract the convoy from the engagement area. Compounding the extraction was the fact that casualties had consumed all available space within the vehicles. Those who had not been wounded, including Trooper Donaldson, were left with no option but to run beside the vehicles throughout. During the conduct of this vehicle manoeuvre to extract the convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind. Of his own violition and displaying complete disregard to his own safety, Trooper Donaldson moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter. His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine gun fire from entrenched positions. Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, Trooper Donaldson picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.

On subsequent occasions during the battle, Trooper Donaldson administered medical care to other wounded soldiers, whilst continually engaging the enemy. Trooper Donaldson's acts of exceptional gallantry in the face of accurate and sustained enemy fire ultimately saved the life of a coalition force interpreter and ensured the safety of the other members of the combined Afghan, US and Australian force.

Trooper Donaldson's actions on this day displayed exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril. His actions are of the highest accord and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Special Operations Command, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.


Mark Donaldson enlisted into the Australian Army on 18th June 2002 and entered recruit training at the Army Recruit Training Centre, Kapooka, New South Wales. He demonstrated an early aptitude for soldiering and was awarded the prizes for best shot and best at physical training in his platoon. Subsequently he was allocated to the Royal Australian infantry corps and posted to the school of infantry at Singleton, NSW, where he excelled in his initial employment training. At the completion of this training he was posted to 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Townsville, Queensland, in November 2002. It was during this time that Trooper Donaldson decided to persue his ambition to join the Special Air Service Regiment.

In February 2004, he successfully completed the Special Air Service Regiment selection course and was posted to the regiment in May 2004. He was then posted to I Troop, 3 Special Air Service Squadron. Since that time Trooper Donaldson has been deployed on operations to East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Iain Stewart, 22 January 2009