Walter twice honoured for battlefield acts
THE Nursing Service Cross, the highest honour for an Australian combat medic, had never been awarded to the same person twice until Sergeant Jonathan Walter.
Walter joined the Australian Defence Force in 2000 at the age of 17, joking he was not old enough to sign up, so his mother “received that honour and signed my life away”.
He received his first NSC just three years later in 2003 after saving the life of a young boy who had fallen off a cliff in East Timor and injured his head.
The second time Walter was awarded the honour, formally known as receiving a Bar to the NSC, was for his efforts treating dozens of casualties after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest outside an Afghan police station.
Walter served almost 11 years in the military including three deployments to Afghanistan with the 2nd Commando Regiment and Special Air Service Regiment.
He was the medic on the ground when Signaller Sean McCarthy lost his life when the vehicle he was in drove over a 20kg explosive.
Walter said the loss of his fellow soldier sunk in when he returned to base a few days later for McCarthy’s ramp ceremony.
“It was a tangible feeling in the air that’s for sure. A grim reminder of what Afghanistan can bring,” he said.
Walter designed the Voodoo Medics patch in 2008 and was instrumental in forming the Voodoo Medics group which is about combining “unconventional medicine and unconventional warfare”.
“Now wearing the voodoo doll comes with a lot of prestige, honour and pride,” he said. “There’s a huge demand on voodoo medics by the nature of their role, a huge responsibility and certain standard that they have to meet so it’s a hard role to get into, and hard role to keep.”
Walter discharged from the military in 2010 and has since embarked on a career with the Tasmanian Department of Emergency Services.