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|Conspicuous Gallantry Cross|
The following text was copied from the Thursday 02 June 2011 edition of the DAILY MAIL newspaper in London, England:
A Gurkha soldier who single-handedly defeated more than thirty Taliban fighters has been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross by the Queen.
Corporal Dipprasad Pun, thirty-one years old, described how he was spurred on by the belief that he was going to die, and so had nothing to lose in taking on the attackers who overran his checkpoint in Afghanistan.
His gallantry award is second only to the Victoria Cross, the highest honour for bravery in the face of the enemy.
Corporal Pun, from the First Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, was presented with the CGC during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, during which a number of other soldiers were recognised for their bravery.
Speaking after receiving the honour from the Queen, the Gurkha said:
"I'm very excited and happy to here in the Palace to receive the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. This will be a great memory for the future."
The soldier fired more than four hundred rounds, launched seventeen grenades, and detonated a mine to thwart the Taliban assault on his checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, last September.
At one point, after exhausting all his ammunition, he had to use the tripod of his machine gun to beat away a militant who was climbing the walls of the compound.
After the ceremony, Corporal Pun was congratulated by investiture guests who queued up to shake his hand.
Speaking about the actions which earned him the CGC, he said:
"At that time I wasn't worried, there wasn't any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint, I was alone.
I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I'd kill as many of them as I could before they killed me.'That incident happened in the middle of my tour and after that I thought nobody can kill us now - - - when we met the enemy I wasn't scared.
I thought the Taliban did not have the capacity to fight with us."
Corporal Pun, an acting sergeant during his Afghan deployment, was on sentry duty at the time of the attack when he heard a clinking noise outside the small base.
At first he thought it might be a donkey or a cow, but when he went to investigate, he found two insurgents digging a trench to lay an improvised explosive device (IED) at the checkpoint's front gate.
He realised that he was completely surrounded and that the Taliban were about to launch a well-planned attempt to overrun the compound.
The enemy opened fire from all sides, destroying the sentry position where the soldier had been on duty minutes before.
Defending the base from the roof, the Gurkha remained under continuous attack from rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s for more than a quarter of an hour.
Most of the militants were about fifty feet away from him, but at one point, he turned around to see a "huge" Taliban fighter looming over him.
The soldier picked up his machine gun and fired a long burst at the man until he fell off the roof. When another insurgent tried to climb up to his position, the Gurkha attempted to shoot him with his SA-80 rifle. But it did not work, either because it had jammed, or because the magazine was empty.
He first grabbed a sandbag, but it had not been tied up, and the contents fell to the floor.
Then he seized the metal tripod of his machine gun and threw it at the approaching Taliban militant, shouting in Nepali, "Marchu talai" ("I will kill you") and knocking him down.
Two insurgents were still attacking by the time the heroic Gurkha had used up all his ammunition, but he set off a Claymore mine to repel them.
At this point his company commander, Major Shaun Chandler, arrived at the checkpoint, slapped him on the back and asked if he was okay.
In total he fired off two hundred and fifty general purpose machine gun rounds, one hundred and eighty SA-80 rounds, six phosphorous grenades, six normal grenades, five underslung grenade launcher rounds, and one Claymore mine.
(" - - - and a partridge in a pear tree"?)
The only weapon he did not use was the traditional Kukri knife carried by Gurkhas, because he did not have his with him at the time.
The married soldier, whose father and grandfather were also Gurkhas, is originally from the village of Bima in western Nepal, but now lives in Ashford, Kent.
His medal citation said he saved the lives of three comrades at the checkpoint at that time and prevented the position being overrun.
"Pun could never know how many enemies were attempting to overcome his position, but he sought them out from all angles despite the danger, consistently moving towards them to reach the best position of attack."
Major General Nicholas Carter, who was commander of combined forces, including British troops, in southern Afghanistan during Corporal Pun's deployment, praised the soldier and those from the Mercian Regiment receiving gallantry awards today.
The senior officer, who received the Distinguished Service Order from the Queen for his leadership in the Middle East country, said:
"Their efforts have been tremendous. It was a privilege to have members of the First Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles and the Mercian Regiment under my command.
The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross does not get handed out lightly. It was a most remarkable achievement by that particular young Gurkha."