LONDON (AFP) – A Nepalese soldier in the British army has been given a top bravery award by Queen Elizabeth II for his heroics in Afghanistan, where he single-handedly saw off more than 30 Taliban fighters.
Corporal Dipprasad Pun, 31, said he thought he was going to die and so had nothing to lose in taking on the attackers who overran his checkpoint. He was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC), which is given in recognition of acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy.
Pun fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to repel the Taliban assault on his checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, last September. Surrounded, the enemy opened fired from all sides and for 15 minutes Pun remained under continuous attack, including from rocket-propelled grenades and AK47 guns.
At one point, unable to shoot, he used his machine gun tripod to knock down a militant who was climbing the walls of the compound. Two insurgents were still attacking by the time he ran out of ammunition, but he set off a Claymore mine to repel them.
Pun was given his medal in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on Wednesday. The CGC is second only to the Victoria Cross — the highest honour for bravery in the face of the enemy. “There wasn’t any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint. I was alone,” he said. “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. “After that I thought nobody can kill us now — when we met the enemy I wasn’t scared.” Britain’s Major General Nicholas Carter, who was commander of allied forces in southern Afghanistan during Pun’s deployment, praised his efforts. “The CGC does not get handed out lightly. It was a most remarkable achievement,” he said.