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Army June 21, 2012
Cpl Ryan Avery recounts the action for which he was awarded a Medal for Gallantry
Sgt Andrew Hetherington
WHEN 5RAR sniper team leader
Cpl Ryan Avery went out on an
Operational Mentoring Liaison
Team (OMLT) patrol in Afghanistan
on December 4, 2010, he had no
idea it would lead to a Medal for
Gallantry in the 2012 Queen's
Birthday Honours list.
"I was stoked when I first read the
letter telling me I'd been awarded the
medal," Cpl Avery said.
"The four-man team I was a member
of in Afghanistan was extremely suc-
cessful in what we did. One of our team
members, Cpl Marc Danieletto, was
also awarded this year a Commendation
for Distinguished Service for his work
on the same deployment."
Cpl Avery arrived in Afghanistan in
October 2010 as a member of 5RAR's
Battle Group Tiger and MTF 2.
His four-man sniper team was first
deployed to Forward Operating Base
Hadrian in Deh Rawud and then sent
out to the Tangi Valley to Patrol Base
Anarjoy. The base was 3km from the
town of Derapet, a known hotspot
where 6RAR's LCpl Jared MacKinney
was killed during a major battle with
insurgents a few months earlier.
Just after lunch on December 4,
2010, an OMLT patrol consisting of 11
Australian and 15 ANA soldiers left PB
Anarjoy headed for Derapet.
"Our four-man sniper call sign
decided to split in two as there weren't
many Australians on the patrol and we
wanted to put the 338 Blazer sniper
rifle in an overwatch position while
myself and Pte Grant Robins, with our
semi-automatic SR-25s, moved with the
patrol members on the low ground," Cpl
As they entered Derapet, the patrol
members noticed a large number of
local men watching them.
"We started seeing a lot of vehicles
and families moving out of town, which
was a sign to us something was going to
happen," he said.
"At this point Cpl Danieletto and
Pte Rolston reported from overwatch
they could see a large number of armed
insurgents approaching Derapet from
As the patrol was moving along
the town side of the tree line near the
aqueduct, they started to take sporadic
Their four-man lead engineer ele-
ment began taking RPG fire, which fell
short of their position.
"We then moved into the aqueduct
to take cover and we began to move
forward towards the firing insurgents,"
Cpl Avery said.
"As I was one of the lead guys in
the aqueduct, I moved forward when
the engineers got pinned down in an
alleyway by PKM machine gun fire
and by a group of insurgents about 25
metres in front of them."
He continued to move forward and
engaged an insurgent trying to escape.
"He was trying to get away from me
by climbing over a wall," he said.
"I fired a couple of shots from the
hip at him, as I was moving low.
"After he got over the wall he fired
back with his rifle and then one of his
mates fired an RPG at us."
Cpl Avery then crawled over the
aqueduct bank up to the pinned-down
"I fired a few rounds with my
SR-25 into where I could see them
moving," he said.
"They also had a machinegun flank-
ing position, which upped his rate of
fire to cover his guys in the lead com-
ing towards us.
"The machinegun must have run
out of ammunition as the fire stopped
and we were able to withdraw to a wall
as insurgents began to aggressively
manoeuvre towards and fire at us."
The patrol members then conduct-
ed a fighting withdrawal out of the
aqueduct into a compound where they
regrouped and established a defensive
This gave the insurgents time to
"I remember hearing one of them
yelling out 'Allah Akbar' and it seemed
like he was trying to fire up his mates,"
Cpl Avery said.
"I took out a grenade, threw it out
towards them then fired a couple of
rounds at them too."
This slowed the insurgents and he
and his mates began a fighting with-
drawal through the compound, toss-
ing grenades over walls into the aque-
duct, firing their weapons and dodging
The insurgents only stopped pursu-
ing the patrol after two AH-64 Apaches
came to their assistance, strafing the
aqueduct with 20mm guns.
"After the Apaches did their job
we were able to break clean and patrol
though Derapet back to the patrol
After returning to PB Anarjoy the
patrol estimated they had come in con-
tact with at least 30 insurgents during
the three-and-half-hour battle.
"Two weeks later in the same area, I
counted a minimum of 45 armed insur-
gents as they tried to hit one of our
other patrols," he said.
The contact exposed him for the
first time to a different type of combat
he'd only seen from a distance previ-
"Before December 4, the only fire
fights I'd been in were as a sniper from
long range," he said.
"It was an eye opener for me and I
had a couple of close calls where I was
nearly shot in the head or torso.
"I realised the insurgents weren't
playing around and didn't care if they
"The contact was exhilarating,
fighting with my mates."
None of Cpl Avery's patrol mem-
bers were wounded during the
December 4 contact.
During the contact, Cpl Avery was
primarily concentrating on withdraw-
ing his patrol safely, but he had another
important reason to survive.
"At the time my wife was pregnant
with our daughter, Sunny, and I thought
I'd like to see Australia and her again,"
He returned to Australia in June
2011, in time to see his daughter born.
-- Full Queen's Birthday Honours
coverage pages 18-19
Team effort: The 5RAR sniper team (inset) from
left, Cpl Marc Danieletto, Cpl Ryan Avery, Pte Grant
Robins and Pte Jason Rolston in the Tangi Valley.
Contact in Derapet -- December 4, 2010
Patrol Base Anarjoy
Joint patrol's direction
patrol pulled back
to and defended
FOR acts of gallantry in action
in hazardous circumstances on
4 December 2010 while a sniper
team member in Mentoring Task
Force Two on Operation Slipper in
Corporal Avery is an exem-
plary soldier whose courage and
selflessness under fire allowed the
safe withdrawal of his patrol in the
face of significant enemy forces.
His fearless action in repeatedly
exposing himself to enemy fire to
better engage his opponents and
protect the lives of his patrol mates
was an inspiration to all.
CITATION -- Cpl Ryan James Avery
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