x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Gurkha honoured for fighting militants in Afghanistan

The citation for the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross states that Dipprasad Pun saved the lives of three comrades and fending off up to 30 Taliban fighters.

Sgt Dipprasad Pun single-handedly fought off up to 30 insurgents in Afghanistan.
Sgt Dipprasad Pun single-handedly fought off up to 30 insurgents in Afghanistan.

LONDON // A Gurkha soldier in the British army, who single-handedly fought off more than a dozen Taliban insurgents, has been awarded the United Kingdom's second-highest award for bravery.

Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun even used a machine-gun tripod to fight off militants swarming the wall of his base in Afghanistan after he had exhausted his ammunition.

The citation for the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross - which is only one level below the Victoria Cross - states that Sgt Pun saved the lives of three comrades who were inside the checkpoint at the time and that that up to 30 Taliban fighters were involved in the attack.

"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," read the citation, which was announced yesterday.

A total of 136 servicemen and women - most of whom served with 4 Mechanised Brigade in Afghanistan between April and October last year - were also awarded honours, four posthumously.

During the raid last September on his post near Babaji in Helmand Province, the 31-year-old Nepalese soldier fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine.

Sgt Pun was on sentry duty when he heard a "clinking" noise. When he went to investigate, he found two insurgents digging a trench to lay an explosive device at the checkpoint's front gate.

He suddenly realised that he was surrounded by Taliban fighters about to attack the base. Moments later, the insurgents opened fire from all sides, destroying Sgt Pun's sentry post. He climbed on to the roof under continuous attack from rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s for more than 15 minutes until reinforcements arrived and the remaining Taliban fled.

During the battle, most of the militants were no more than 15 metres from Sgt Pun. At one stage, one "huge" Taliban rushed up from behind but the Gurkha fired a long burst until the man fell from the roof.

Later, another Taliban almost made it to the roof but Sgt Pun knocked him back with the tripod after his rifle ran out of bullets.

"As soon as it was confirmed (they were) Taliban, I was really scared," he recalled yesterday. "But as soon as I opened fire that was gone; before they kill me I have to kill some.

"I thought they were going to kill me after a couple of minutes, definitely.

"I think I am a very lucky guy, a survivor. Now I am getting this award it is very great and I am very happy."

Pun's father and grandfather were also in the British Army, according to the Mail Online.

 

dsapsted@thenational.ae