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Victoria Cross Awarded to Aussie Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran

The Victoria Cross is the highest military honor in order of precedence of the Commonwealth's awards.  It is akin to our Medal of Honor.  There have 99 awards of the VC (or equivalent) to Australians with only 3 of those awards since 1991.

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Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran VC has been invested as the recipient of Australia’s 99th Victoria Cross by Governor-General Quentin Bryce during a ceremony at Government House, Canberra.

His citation reads: “For the most conspicuous acts of gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in action in circumstances of great peril at Derapet, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, as part of the Mentoring Task Force One on Operation SLIPPER” on 24 August 2010.

At the time, Corporal Keighran was a member of the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment which was deployed to Afghanistan with Mentoring Task Force One.

Corporal Keighran is only the third recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia, which in 1991 replaced the British or Imperial Victoria Cross awarded to 96 Australians. He is the first member of the Royal Australian Regiment to receive the country’s highest military honour.

Corporal Keighran said he was surprised and honoured to receive the award.

“This is a very unexpected and humbling experience and I don’t think it has really sunk in yet,” Corporal Keighran said.

“I am very proud of the boys from Delta Company, 6 RAR and how they performed that day. This award is as much for their efforts as it is for mine.

“I would also like to acknowledge my family, friends and especially my wife Kathryn. They have been very supportive throughout my service and deployments and I would like to recognise and thank them.”

The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, congratulated Corporal Daniel Keighran, VC on being awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia.

“Corporal Keighran acted with exceptional clarity and composure that spread to those soldiers around him, giving them confidence to operate effectively in an extremely stressful and dangerous situation,” General Hurley said.

“His actions identified and suppressed enemy firing points and turned the fight in our favour.

“Corporal Keighran joins an esteemed group of Australians revered for their courage in combat. The official citation will show that “his valour is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force,” but perhaps the greatest honour comes from one of his comrades who said ‘I would fight to serve with Corporal Dan Keighran in the future’.”

The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, commented on the enduring humility, dedication and mateship demonstrated by Corporal Keighran.

“Corporal Keighran has shown tremendous humility and has continually recognised that his actions were undertaken as part of a team,” Lieutenant General Morrison said.

“His dedication to his mates and to the operation saw him repeatedly put himself in harm’s way that day. He epitomises ‘Duty First’, the motto of the Royal Australian Regiment.

“The valour of his actions and those of the other members of his patrol, are exemplars of the very best in Australian soldiering,” Lieutenant General Morrison said.

Corporal Keighran had several combat tours and is now a reservist. He has been awarded the following honors and awards:

  • Victoria Cross for Australia
  • Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp Iraq and Clasp ICAT
  • Iraq Campaign Medal
  • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
  • Australian Service Medal with Clasp East Timor
  • Australian Defence Medal
  • United Nations Mission in Support of East Timor Medal
  • NATO Non Article 5 Medal with Clasp ISAF
  • Meritorious Unit Citation for 1-MTF
  • Infantry Combat Badge

The full citation for the Victoria Cross is posted after the jump.

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Australian Army

Awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia

Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran, VC

Citation

For the most conspicuous acts of gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in action in circumstances of great peril at Derapet, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as part of the Mentoring Task Force One on Operation SLIPPER.

Corporal Keighran deployed to Afghanistan in February 2010 with the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. On 24 August 2010 he was a member of a partnered fighting patrol with soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 205th (Hero) Corps which was engaged by a numerically superior and coordinated enemy attack from multiple firing points in three separate locations. The attack was initiated by a high volume of sustained and accurate machine-gun and small-arms fire which pinned down the combined Australian and Afghan patrol and caused a loss of momentum.

In the early stages of the attack, and upon realising that the forward elements of the patrol needed effective fire support, Corporal Keighran and another patrol member moved under sustained and accurate enemy fire to an exposed ridgeline to identify enemy locations and direct the return fire of both Australian and Afghan machine guns.

On reaching this position and with complete disregard for his own wellbeing, Corporal Keighran deliberately drew enemy fire by leaving the limited cover he had and moved over the ridgeline in order to positively identify targets for the machine gunners of the combined patrol. After identifying some of the enemy firing positions, Corporal Keighran, under persistent enemy fire continued to lead and mentor his team and move around the ridge to both direct the fire of the Afghan and Australian machine gunners and to move them to more effective firing positions.

As the intensity of enemy fire grew, Corporal Keighran returned to the crest of the ridgeline to identify targets and adjust the fire of Australian Light Armoured vehicles. His actions resulted in the effective suppression of enemy firing points, which assisted in turning the fight in the favour of the combined patrol. Moving to a new position, Corporal Keighran deliberately and repeatedly again exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to assist in target identification and the marking of the forward line of troops for fire support elements whilst simultaneously engaging the enemy.

Realising that the new position provided a better location for the patrol’s joint fire controller, Corporal Keighran moved over 100 metres across exposed parts of the ridgeline, attracting a high volume of accurate enemy fire, to locate and move the fire controller to the new position. He then rose from cover again to expose his position on four successive occasions, each movement drawing more intense fire than the last in order to assist in the identification of a further three enemy firing points that were subsequently engaged by fire support elements.

During one of these occasions, when his patrol sustained an Australian casualty, Corporal Keighran with complete disregard for his own safety, left his position of cover on the ridgeline to deliberately draw fire away from the team treating the casualty. Corporal Keighran remained exposed and under heavy fire while traversing the ridgeline, in order to direct suppressing fire and then assist in the clearance of the landing zone to enable evacuation of the casualty.

Corporal Keighran’s acts of the most conspicuous gallantry to repeatedly expose himself to accurate and intense enemy fire, thereby placing himself in grave danger, ultimately enabled the identification and suppression of enemy firing positions by both Australian and Afghan fire support elements. These deliberate acts of exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril were instrumental in permitting the withdrawal of the combined Australian and Afghan patrol with no further casualties. His valour is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

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