It is with deep regret the Australian Defence Force announces the death of Sergeant Brett Wood during operations in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Wood was serving with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan when he was tragically killed in action as a result of the explosion of an Improvised Explosive Device on Monday 23 May 2011 (Afghanistan time).
Thirty-two year old Sergeant Wood was from the Sydney based 2nd Commando Regiment.
Sergeant Brett Wood leaves behind his loving wife and family, who are currently receiving support from Defence.
Sergeant Brett Wood was born in Ferntree Gully, Victoria in 1978. He joined the Army in 1996 and after recruit training joined 6th Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment. Sergeant Wood successfully undertook Commando Selection and Training and joined the then 4th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (2 Commando) in November 1998.
Sergeant Wood has significant operational experience. His first deployment was to Bougainville in 2000. In 2001 he deployed to East Timor on Operation Tanager and in 2003 to Iraq on Operation Falconer. In 2006 Sergeant Wood deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Slipper. He was awarded The Medal for Gallantry for leadership in action as a Team Commander during this tour.
Sergeant Wood received a Special Operations Commander – Australia, Commendation for service with the Tactical Assault Group – East in 2007 and in 2009 he returned to Afghanistan as a Section Commander.
Sergeant Wood deployed to Afghanistan, for the third time in March.
Sergeant Brett Wood was awarded:
- the Medal for Gallantry
- the Australian Active Service Medal with clasps East Timor, International Coalition Against Terrorism (ICAT) and Iraq 2003
- the Afghanistan Campaign Medal
- the Iraq Campaign Medal
- the Australian Service Medal with clasps Bougainville, Counter Terrorism and Special Recovery
- the Defence Long Service Medal
- the Australian Defence Medal
- the United Nations East Timor Medal
- the NATO ISAF Medal
- the Special Operations Command Australia Commendation
- a Unit Citation for Gallantry
- the Infantry Combat Badge.
During Sergeant Brett Wood service in the Australian Army, he deployed on the following Operations.
- Operation Bel Isi II (Bougainville): March 2000 – August 2000
- Operation Tanager (East Timor): April 2001 – August 2001
- Operation Falconer (Iraq): February 2003 – May 2003
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): April 2006 – September 2006
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): July 2009 – November 2009
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): March 2011 – May 2011.
Medal for Gallantry
For gallantry and leadership in action as a Commando Team Commander, of the Special Operations Task Group – Task Force 637, whilst deployed on Operation Slipper Rotation Three Afghanistan, May – September 2006.
Corporal Brett Mathew Wood enlisted in the Australian Regular Army on the 13th of February 1996 and was allocated to the 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment. He later successfully completed Commando training and was posted to the 4th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) in 1998. Corporal Wood’s operational experience includes deployments on Operations Bel Isi, Tanager, Falconer and Slipper.
On the 17th of July 2006 during Operation Perth, the Commando Platoon was tasked to conduct the clearance of an Anti Coalition Militia sanctuary in the Chora Valley, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. The Platoon was partnered in support of an Infantry Company of the United States Army 10th Mountain Division. At approximately 1 pm the Infantry Company came under heavy rocket propelled grenade and small arms fire on multiple flanks resulting in six wounded and one soldier killed in action, effectively halting their advance. Through thick vegetation, facing large numbers of dispersed Anti Coalition Militia and under heavy fire, the Commando Platoon commenced manoeuvring to provide assistance to the element which was pinned down. During this move the Commando Platoon received a volley of four rockets which impacted in the centre of the platoon’s position resulting in six Australian soldiers wounded in action, a loss to the platoon by one third of its force. Unknown to the Commander at the time, Corporal Wood had also been wounded in the foot by fragmentation from the rocket propelled grenade barrage.
In order to regain the initiative, Corporal Wood’s team was tasked by the Commando Platoon Commander to assault forward and clear a group of compounds from which they were receiving Anti Coalition Militia fire. Under these daunting conditions Corporal Wood commenced this task without hesitation, completing a rapid and aggressive clearance of numerous threat compounds. Once achieved, both the United States and Australian elements were free to continue with the battle providing the necessary time to effect the back loading of the wounded by helicopter to the Forward Operating Base.
Throughout the afternoon, numerous and relentless probing attacks by a determined opponent followed. Corporal Wood displayed extraordinary leadership and courage, inspiring his team and the remainder of the Commando platoon to repel the continued attacks. He then successfully led a marksmanship team to infiltrate the Anti Coalition Militia held territory killing seven Anti Coalition Militia. Only after the engagement had been completed and the threat to the platoon subsided did Corporal Wood inform his Commander of the fragmentation wound that he had sustained during the original contact earlier that day. Corporal Wood was then evacuated to the Casualty Collection Point where he was provided with medical treatment and later extracted.
Corporal Wood’s actions on the 17th of July 2006, as a Commando Team Commander during Operation Perth, were testament to his leadership, fortitude and sense of duty to his team and the platoon. His determination to continue to lead his team during the battle in extremely hazardous circumstances despite being wounded ensured that the Commando Platoon regained the initiative and contributed significantly to a decisive victory. His gallantry and leadership in the face of the enemy has been of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations Command Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.
Statements and tributes
Mrs Elvi Wood, Sergeant Wood's wife
On behalf of Brett’s immediate family, his friends and myself - I would like the Australian public to know what a brilliant husband, son, brother, friend and soldier Brett Mathew Wood was.
Brett was extremely proud to be part of the 2nd Commando Regiment and he considered many of his colleagues to be his second family. He was an excellent soldier, a true leader and a friend to all in his unit.
The care and support we have received today from the Defence Force as well as Brett’s colleagues simply reinforces how well respected Brett was.
Brett was a much loved son, grandson and brother who inspired his family with his dedication and generosity.
I have not only lost my husband, I have lost my best friend. The past six years with him were the happiest of my life and it was the biggest honour ever to become his wife and to be part of his family.
Brett, you have done your country proud and you will always be remembered.
I love you with all of my heart. Be in peace now.
We request that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time and provide us with the space to grieve. We will not be making any further comment and thank the media and community for their understanding.