Gurkha Soldier Honoured

A Gurkha soldier who lives in Kent has been honoured with a bravery award, after single handedly fighting off 30 taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun from Ashford was given the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross by the Queen during a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace. It is in recognition of his actions during an attack in Helmand Province in September.

The 31 year old was on sentry duty at a checkpoint near Babaji when he heard a clinking noise outside. At first he thought it might be an animal, but it was actually two insurgents digging a trench to lay an improvised explosive device at the checkpoint's front gate.

He realised that he was completely surrounded and that the Taliban were about to launch a well-planned attempt to overrun the compound. The enemy opened fire from all sides, destroying the sentry position where Acting Sgt Pun had been on duty minutes before.

Defending the base from the roof, the Gurkha remained under continuous attack from rocket-propelled grenades and AK47s for over quarter of an hour.

He fired more than 400 machine gun rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine. At one point he had to use the tripod of his machine gun to beat away a militant climbing the walls of the compound.

At this point his company commander, Major Shaun Chandler, arrived at the checkpoint, slapped him on the back and asked if he was OK. Acting Sgt Pun admitted that he was confused at first about whether the officer was another member of the Taliban.

Asked if he might have accidentally fired on his commander, the Gurkha smiled as he said: ``I didn't have any more ammunition.''

He said he thought the assault would never end and "nearly collapsed'' when it was over. "As soon as it was confirmed (they were) Taliban, I was really scared,'' he recalled. "I thought they were going to kill me after a couple of minutes, definitely.''

He spoke of his pride at receiving the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, which is only one level down from the Victoria Cross.

"I think I am a very lucky guy, a survivor. Now I am getting this award it is very great and I am very happy,'' he said.

The married soldier, whose father and grandfather were also both Gurkhas, is originally from the village of Bima in western Nepal but now lives in Ashford, Kent.

His medal citation says he saved the lives of three comrades also at the checkpoint at that time and prevented the position from being overrun.

It read: "Pun could never know how many enemies were attempting to overcome his position, but he sought them out from all angles despite the danger, consistently moving towards them to reach the best position of attack.''