It was the Special Operations Task Group’s fourth rotation — and the traditional summer fighting season with 50C temperatures “like having a hair dryer to your face”.
The platoon from 4RAR Cdo’s Alpha Company was near the town of Khas Oruzgan when a burst of radio chatter indicated Taliban in fortified positions in the cliff face were preparing to attack.
The Australians were exposed on the valley floor, with little cover.
“Our platoon decided to do a dismounted patrol up to this ridge to do a bit of a recon,” Tieche said.
As they crept up the mountainside, “a hail of bullets and rocket fire” erupted. Elliott, then 25, copped the brunt of the ambush.
“I didn’t really know where it came from,” he recalled from his home at Avoca, north of Sydney.
“I just saw a cloud of dust come up around and bullets striking the ground. From there I knew my leg was broken. It just crumpled underneath me.”
The entry wound was the size of a fingernail but the round ripped a fist-sized hole through his buttock on the way out. The super fit soldier rapidly lost blood and went into shock.
Mates sprinted forward and dragged him behind a rock as the commandos fired at the enemy above them.
“They were shielding my body from gunfire,” Elliott said. A commando provided initial treatment and the call went out to send forward a Bushmaster armoured vehicle carrying the unit’s medic — codenamed “Kilo”.