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AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS
Army February 2, 2012
TWO members of MTF 1, hon-
oured for their selfless actions
during the Battle of Derapet
in Afghanistan on August 24,
2010, have dedicated their Medals for
Gallantry to their mates who died.
Pte Paul Langer, 6RAR, said he didn't
see his own actions on that day as distinct
from the men around him.
"For me, individual awards aren't
such a big deal. The medal was really for
what our patrol did on the day, working
well together," he said.
"We can't forget we lost a bloke
[LCpl Jared MacKinney] on the day dur-
ing the contact.
"It's important for all of us boys that
Jared's memory is not lost and the sacri-
fices he made are remembered."
Sgt Sean Lanigan, 5/6RVR, who was
the 2IC of the patrol, had a similar reac-
tion to receiving the MG.
"I'm proud to receive an individu-
al honour but it pales in comparison to
the sacrifices of the men on our deploy-
ment who didn't make it home alive," Sgt
Pte Langer said in August 2010 his
callsign had just started their new role of
mentoring the ANA after working within
a combat-team structure.
"We were working out of Patrol Base
Ana Joy in Deh Rawud in Uruzgan prov-
ince," Pte Langer said.
"We conducted local patrolling with
ANA soldiers, who we were also mentor-
"On the morning of August 24 our
call sign, which included ANA ele-
ments as well as a supporting Australian
platoon element from FOB Hadrian,
stepped off at first light on a local clear-
The purpose of the patrol was to clear
Derapet of any insurgents, following up
on a patrol which they had conducted a
couple of days earlier.
"We were operating in an area where
we had experience contact days before,
so we weren't surprised when we were
hit again," Pte Langer said.
"Also on August 20 we'd heard of two
more Australian casualties, [Ptes] Grant
Kirby and Tomas Dale, who were good
friends with members of our patrol.
"After hearing about this it only
strengthened our resolve to continue our
After leaving their base on August 24
they began patrolling through the Tangi
Valley on their planned route, heading
east towards Derapet.
"We began to notice changes in the
local environment and once we got into
the village we sensed there could be dan-
ger in the area," Pte Langer said.
"As we arrived in the green zone
towards the end of Derapet we were
engaged from close proximity."
During the initial stages of the con-
tact, the lead element of the patrol
returned fire using the aqueducts as cover.
"It was hard to tell how many enemy
were firing at us with small arms, but we
could tell there were several quite close
to us and there were a lot more on the
other side of the river [nearby]," he said.
"During the initial stages of the con-
tact, Sgt Lanigan, in the dual roles of
senior ANA mentor and patrol 2IC, was
doing most of the directing of our fire
onto the enemy, whereas I was main-
ly concerned about the ANA, trying to
organise them to push in one direction."
This was not an easy task for Pte
Langer with the language barrier and dif-
ferences in soldiering backgrounds.
"A lot of what I did was through hand
signals and it helped we knew each other
well," Pte Langer said.
"We'd also been in contacts with them
before and they proved to be quite good,
so it was a matter of pointing them in the
"The whole patrol was firing at the
enemy and there were other groups
receiving large volumes of fire. During
this time the ASLAVs proved to be vital
in assisting with suppression of enemy
During the contact LCpl MacKinney
was seriously wounded and extracted
under fire, but pronounced dead on arrival
at Multinational Base Tarin Kot.
"I was in his platoon early on in the
deployment. I knew him well and he was
a great bloke," Pte Langer said.
"I use to train with him and I saw
him on the morning of the patrol, which
was nice to see him and I cherished the
For more than three hours Pte Langer
and his ANA and 6RAR mates kept the
enemy at bay, holding back constant
flanking assaults in difficult conditions.
"It was a hot day and we were running
through a muddy aqueduct with a fair bit
of kit on. It takes a fair bit of fitness to
keep going," Pte Langer said.
"Every member of the patrol contrib-
uted equally to the best of their ability,
which enabled us to sustain our efforts for
the whole contact.
"This included some of us who were
treating casualties, sighting and clearing
the landing zone, marking targets and
coordinating fire support, all while taking
After three-and-a-half hours, Pte
Langer, Sgt Lanigan and the remainder of
their callsign began a fighting withdrawal,
varying their exit route out of Derapet so
as to not attract too much enemy fire.
"We still got hit on the way out, but
once we had buildings to our south and
east we became quite mobile and the
accuracy of the fire died off," Pte Langer
"We arrived back at Ana Joy in the
"We were lucky we'd had a number
of small contacts previous to the August
24 event, which prepared us for the three-
and-a-half hours of combat we saw.
"All of the men in the patrol rose to
the challenge and were able to conduct
themselves very calmly during times of
During the contact the patrol main-
tained the initiative by using superior
fire, watching out for their colleagues and
helping each other out.
"Selflessness was commonplace in
this kind of situation among all of us," Pte
"It wouldn't have mattered who was
in that position on the day, they would've
done the exact same thing Sgt Lanigan
and I did."
The platoon commander, Lt James
Fanning, received a Distinguished Service
Medal for his leadership during the battle
and another member of the platoon, Pte
Shaun Parker, received a Commendation
It was a hard fight and a dark day for MTF 1.
Sgt Andrew Hetherington meets two soldiers
who have been recognised for gallantry after
distinguishing themselves in Derapet.
Decorated: Pte Paul Langer and Sgt Sean Lanigan (inset) have received the Medal for Gallantry in
recognition of their efforts during the battle of Derapet in August 2010.
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