Gurkha who repelled Taliban attack gets bravery medal
- 25 March 2011
- From the section UK
A Gurkha who single-handedly fought off an attack by at least a dozen Taliban insurgents has been awarded Britain's second highest medal for bravery.
Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun used up all of his ammunition and resorted to using his machine gun tripod to repel the attack in Afghanistan in September.
The Gurkha, 31, of Ashford, Kent, said he was a "lucky guy" and very proud to get the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
A total of 136 UK servicemen and women are being honoured, four posthumously.
On the roof
Acting Sgt Pun was on sentry duty at a checkpoint near Babaji, in Afghanistan's Helmand province, on 17 September last year when he spotted insurgents trying to plant a bomb beside the front gate.
Moments later, militants opened fire on the compound from all sides.
For more than a quarter of an hour, alone on the roof, Acting Sgt Pun fought off an onslaught from rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.
In total, he fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine.
At one point, when an insurgent tried to climb up to his position, his rifle failed and he resorted to throwing his machine gun tripod to knock him down.
Acting Sgt Pun, who is originally from the Nepalese village of Bima, believed at the time that there were more than 30 attackers.
Local villagers later told him the figure was more likely to have been 12 to 15.
Recalling the incident, he said: "As soon as it was confirmed [they were] Taliban, I was really scared.
"But as soon as I opened fire that was gone - [I thought] 'Before they kill me I have to kill some.'
"I thought they were going to kill me after a couple of minutes, definitely."
The citation on his medal - which is only one level below the Victoria Cross - states that he saved the lives of three comrades who were inside the checkpoint at the time.
"I think I am a very lucky guy, a survivor," he added. "Now I am getting this award, it is very great and I am very happy."
Another of those being honoured is Army medic Cpl Isobel Henderson, who receives an MBE.
The 24-year-old's citation said she had to cope with "an exceptionally heavy burden of casualties" at an isolated checkpoint in Lashkar Gah, which was "under near constant attack for six months".
Twice during her tour last year, she responded to large bomb attacks on civilians in which the victims were as young as two years old.
Cpl Henderson, from Dalbeattie, near Dumfries, said: "It's not until afterwards, when you sit down and think, 'Oh my God, what just happened? What did I just do?'
"To be honest, I was quite proud of myself - I actually thought I dealt with it relatively well and I didn't panic."
L/Cpl Matthew Morris, of the Royal Engineers, has been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery after uncovering one of the largest improvised explosive devices ever found in Helmand.
The 23-year-old, from Longbridge, Birmingham, led the team that discovered the 500lb (226kg) device after aerial reconnaissance spotted 16 men digging something into the ground.
His citation reads: "Very few searchers volunteer to return to Afghanistan, yet Morris did exactly that on this, his second tour.
"Morris has never once relinquished his lead role, displaying a high level of courage and commitment."
The honours will be presented at a later date.