Reality of war hits hard in morgue
THE makeshift morgue was full by the time soldiers from Sydney’s 2nd Commando Regiment finished treating the casualties. Dozens had been wounded and killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside an Afghan police station. Sergeant Jonathan Walter was one of three Australians working in an American field surgical team that day in 2005. The field hospital “was literally a canvas tent … and we were overwhelmed with casualties,” he said. For his efforts, the then-advanced medical technician became the first and only Australian to be awarded a second Nursing Service Cross — the highest honour for a combat medic — for outstanding devotion and competency in performing nursing duties. Walter said receiving the Bar to add to his first Nursing Service Cross was a “humbling experience”. “I don’t remember how many lives were lost. However, there were a lot of lives saved,” he said. Walter received his first NSC in 2003 after saving the life of a young boy who had fallen off a cliff in East Timor and injured his head.