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Department of Defence
Media Release


16/01/2009 MECC 19/09




The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, today saluted Trooper Mark Donaldson as he became the first Australian in almost forty years to be awarded the Victoria Cross.


Air Chief Marshal Houston said the Victoria Cross for Australia was the nation’s highest military honour and was presented only to those who displayed the most conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy.


“Today is a momentous day for the Australian Defence Force and for Trooper Donaldson,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.


“I ask you all to contemplate Trooper Donaldson’s selfless and courageous act of mateship and loyalty - not only to his fellow Aussie comrades but to the Afghani interpreter whose life he undoubtedly saved.


“We in the Australian Defence Force stand united in our pride as one of our own is admitted into the most exclusive of military fraternities.


“Trooper Donaldson has been inducted into the ranks of those military personnel deemed to be the most gallant; the most heroic; the most devoted.


“He joins a band of brothers so admired for their valour that there are only ten surviving members in the world today.”


Air Chief Marshal Houston said tradition held that even the most senior officer saluted a Victoria Cross recipient as a mark respect for their act of valour.


“It will be my great honour from this day forth to salute Trooper Mark Donaldson, VC,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.


Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, congratulated Trooper Donaldson on behalf of all members of the Australian Army.


“Trooper Donaldson’s actions, and those of the other members of his patrol, are fine examples of the very best in Australian soldiering. I’m very proud of them all,” Lieutenant General Gillespie said.



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Trooper Donaldson said he felt very privileged and overwhelmed at being awarded Australia’s highest military honour.


“I don’t see myself as a hero. I was in Afghanistan just doing my job. My training and my instincts took over on the day,” Trooper Donaldson said.


“I am very proud but also keen to get back to work and be with my mates.”


Media note:

Images of Trooper Donaldson and file imagery of SOTG in Afghanistan is available at 


Audio grabs will be available at


File vision of the SOTG in Afghanistan will be fed to the Press Gallery at Parliament House.


Media contact:

Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664






Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, ACT
Phone: 02 6127 1999 Fax: 02 6265 6946
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