Re­al­ity of war hits hard in morgue

Western Times - - NEWS - KRISTIN SHORTEN

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.

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