Kiwi soldier awarded Victoria Cross.

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Staff Sergeant
Jul 2, 2006
Kiwi Land
NZ Herald

Kiwi SAS corporal awarded VC for Afghanistan heroism

A New Zealand SAS corporal has been awarded the Victoria Cross - the first since World War 2 - after carrying an injured colleague through enemy fire in Afghanistan.

Corporal Bill Apiata, known as Willy, joins an elite club in receiving the medal.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today: "Corporal Apiata carried a severely wounded fellow soldier across open ground while coming under intense attack. He did this despite the extreme danger to himself."

He becomes the 22nd member of New Zealand defence forces to win a Victoria Cross, the first to receive once since WW2, and the first winner of the new Victoria Cross for New Zealand, which was instituted in 1999.

In 2004 Lance Corporal Apiata was part of an NZ SAS patrol in Afghanistan.

The troops had put up a defensive formation for the night when they were attacked by a group of around 20 enemy fighters. Grenades destroyed one of the troops' vehicles and immobilised another.

This was then followed by fire from machine guns and further grenade attacks.

The initial attack was aimed at the vehicle where Lance Corporal Apiata was stationed, and he was blown off the bonnet by the impact of the grenade. He was not physically injured but another soldier - named only as Corporal D - was in a serious condition.

The soldiers were under constant fire from the enemy and, as they were exposed by the fire from the vehicle, they immediately tried to take cover.

Corporal D's injuries were life threatening, and the other two soldiers began to apply first aid.

Apiata took control of the situation, as D was rapidly deteriorating. However, he was in a very exposed position and the enemy fire was becoming increasingly intense.

D was suffering from arterial bleeding and so Apiata came to the conclusion that he needed urgent medical attention or he would die.

So without considering abandoning his fellow soldier to save himself Apiata decided to carry D to the safer position where the rest of their troops were stationed and where D could get proper medical attention. Apiata then carried D seventy meters through exposed ground and enemy fire - and miraculously neither man was hit.

Apiata then resumed the fight.

Medical evaluation revealed that D would have probably died from blood loss had it not been for Apiata's bravery in getting him the proper medical attention.

Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae, said Corporal Apiata was a humble man who when praised for his bravery had said: "I was only doing my job, boss."

Another three, unnamed, members of the SAS received other awards. Details were not being released of their bravery "for operational security reasons", the Defence Force said.

The Defence Force said: "All four recipients have shown incredible strength of character in adverse conditions and embody the ethos and values of the New Zealand Defence Force."

Official Citation follows.


The Queen has been pleased to approve the following New Zealand Gallantry Awards:


Corporal Bill Henry APIATA (M181550) - Citation

"Lance Corporal (now Corporal) Apiata was, in 2004, part of a New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) Troop on patrol in Afghanistan, which laid up in defensive formation for the night.

At approximately 0315 hours, the Troop was attacked by a group of about twenty enemy fighters, who had approached by stealth using the cover of undulating ground in pitch darkness. Rocket-propelled grenades struck two of the Troop's vehicles, destroying one and immobilising the other.

The opening strike was followed by dense and persistent machine gun and automatic rifle fire from close range.

The attack then continued using further rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun and rifle fire. The initial attack was directed at the vehicle where Lance Corporal Apiata was stationed.

He was blown off the bonnet by the impact of rocket propelled grenades striking the vehicle. He was dazed, but was not physically injured.

The two other vehicle crew members had been wounded by shrapnel; one of them, Corporal D, was in a serious condition.

Illuminated by the burning vehicle, and under sustained and accurate enemy fire directed at and around their position, the three soldiers immediately took what little cover was available. Corporal D was discovered to have sustained lifethreatening wounds. The other two soldiers immediately began applying basic first aid.

Lance Corporal Apiata assumed command of the situation, as he could see that his superior's condition was deteriorating rapidly.

By this time, however, Lance Corporal Apiata's exposed position, some seventy metres in front of the rest of the Troop, was coming under increasingly intense enemy fire. Corporal D was now suffering serious arterial bleeding and was lapsing in and out of consciousness.

Lance Corporal Apiata concluded that his comrade urgently required medical attention,or he would likely die. Pinned down by the enemy, in the direct line of fire between friend and foe, he also judged that there was almost no chance of such help reaching their position.

As the enemy pressed its attack towards Lance Corporal Apiata's position, and without thought of abandoning his colleague to save himself, he took a decision in the highest order of personal courage under fire. Knowing the risks involved in moving to open ground, Lance Corporal Apiata decided to carry Corporal D singlehandedly to the relative safety of the main Troop position, which afforded better cover and where medical treatment could be given.

He ordered his other colleague, Trooper E, to make his own way back to the rear.

In total disregard of his own safety, Lance Corporal Apiata stood up and lifted his comrade bodily. He then carried him across the seventy metres of broken, rocky and fire swept ground, fully exposed in the glare of battle to heavy enemy fire and into the face of returning fire from the main Troop position. That neither he nor his colleague were hit is scarcely possible. Having delivered his wounded companion to relative shelter with the remainder of the patrol, Lance Corporal Apiata re-armed himself and rejoined the fight in counter-attack.

By his actions, he removed the tactical complications of Corporal D's predicament from considerations of rescue.

The Troop could now concentrate entirely on prevailing in the battle itself. After an engagement lasting approximately twenty minutes, the assault was broken up and the numerically superior attackers were routed with significant casualties, with the Troop in pursuit.

Lance Corporal Apiata had thereby contributed materially to the operational success of the engagement. A subsequent medical assessment confirmed that Corporal D would probably have died of blood loss and shock, had it not been for Lance Corporal Apiata's selflessly courageous act in carrying him back to the main Troop lines, to receive the immediate treatment that he needed."


Ake Ake Kia Kaha Willy Apiata.


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The dude even looks tough. Serious as a heart attack. Good for him. Good for us we have guys like him on our side.
Take another look Tim.

He was on the evening news, a soft spoken humble family man. The guy he saved still works with him every day.

The Chief of Staff for NZDF stated that as per the other soldiers awarded it would have been done under the cloak of secrecy normaly prevelant for that unit.

The NZ SAS are the only SAS unit outside of Britain who are allowed to wear the sand beret, winged daggger SAS badge.

He is the sole recipient of the V.C. in New Zealand since WW2. 33 have been awarded to Kiwis since the Boer war in 1898 - 1902 period, 32 recipients with a V.C. and Bar to Charles Hazlett Upham.

Also he is the only Live, Serving member of the SAS to recieve the honour since the unit was established in NZ in the 50's.
k9kiwi you said 'The NZ SAS are the only SAS unit outside of Britain who are allowed to wear the sand beret, winged daggger SAS badge.'
Sorry M8 you got your wires crossed. There have been four units who wear the sand beret and SAS badge; Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Rhodesia. Of course now there are only three.

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