Corporal Daniel Keighran, a gold miner at the Frog’s Leg mine, 20 km from Kalgoorlie, has been awarded the country’s highest military honour.
The defence reservist enlisted in 2000 and has served as a Bushmaster driver in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Keighran was awarded the Cross for his heroics in a battle with the Taliban in the village of Derapet, in Afghanistan’s province of Oruzgan.
The Corporal’s citation reads that he, ''with complete disregard for his own safety, broke cover on multiple occasions to draw intense and accurate enemy fire to identify enemy locations and direct return fire from Australian and Afghan fire support elements''.
After a comrade was brought down, “Corporal Keighran moved from his position of cover to deliberately draw fire away from the team who were treating the casualty''.
Keighran is only the third Australian serving in Afghanistan to be awarded the VC.
The miner has also won a reputation for his extreme humility and reluctance to discuss the events, of which he let his wife know only a fortnight ago.
“It's not that I couldn't talk about it. It's just, I suppose that's just the way I am,” he told ABC’s PM.
I'm quite private in that regard, and what we did overseas and that, it's for the boys and that and for me,”
La Mancha, the owner of the hero’s gold mine, expressed pride in his efforts.
"We are very proud of him, like everybody else in Australia at the moment," said a spokeswoman.
The Daily Telegraph reports that army engineers and logistics managers are in high demand in mines, and Defence has given up on trying to prevent them being poached.
The army is "competing across the market" for staff, and "we certainly can't compete in financial terms," General David Hurley, the chief of the defence force, said.
“These days we say we realise you might want to go away for two or three years, put a nest egg together … but you're always welcome back because your experience is valuable to us."
To read Keighran’s full citation, at News Limited Network, click here.
Image: The Times.