Corporal Mark Donaldson, VC
Corporal Mark Donaldson, VC, joined the Australian Army on 18 June 2002 and demonstrated an early aptitude for soldiering. After initial training, he was allocated to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, before successfully completing the Special Air Service selection course in February 2004. Since that time he has been deployed on operations with the Special Air Service Regiment on several occasions.
On 2 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, (then) Trooper Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. For his actions on this day, Trooper Donaldson was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia. Trooper Donaldson’s citation reads:
“For most conspicuous acts of gallantry in action in a circumstance of great peril in Afghanistan as part of the Special Operations Task Group during Operation SLIPPER, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.”
On 16 January 2009, (then) Trooper Donaldson was invested with the Victoria Cross for Australia by the Governor-General, becoming the first Australian to receive the award since the Vietnam War.
On 25 January 2010, Corporal Donaldson was recognised for his outstanding example to Australia’s youth and announced as the Young Australian of the Year by the Prime Minister in a public ceremony on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra.
In November 2013, Corporal Donaldson released his memoir, The Crossroad: A Story of Life, Death and the SAS.
Corporal Donaldson has been wounded in action twice; he has deployed to Timor-Leste (East Timor), Afghanistan and Iraq; and he continues to serve part-time in the Australian Army today.
Corporal Donaldson has received the following honours and awards:
- Victoria Cross for Australia
- Australian Active Service Medal with ‘International Coalition Against Terrorism (ICAT)’ clasp
- Afghanistan Medal
- Australian Service Medal with ‘Counter Terrorism/Special Recovery (CT/SR)’ clasp
- Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
- Defence Long Service Medal
- Australian Defence Medal
- NATO Non-Article 5 Medal with ‘International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’ clasp and multi-tour indicator ‘3’
- Unit Citation for Gallantry – Task Force 637 (Special Operations Task Group), Afghanistan
- Meritorious Unit Citation – Task Force 66 (Special Operations Task Group), Afghanistan
- Infantry Combat Badge
- Returned from Active Service Badge