Courtesy Sgt Andrew Hetherington, ARMY News
5RAR sniper team leader CPL Ryan Avery went out
on an Operational Mentoring Liaison Team (OMLT)
patrol in Afghanistan on December 4, 2010, he
had no idea it would lead to a Medal for
Gallantry (MG) in the 2012 Queen's Birthday
"I was stoked when I first read the letter
telling me I'd been awarded the medal," CPL
"The four-man team I was a member of in
Afghanistan was extremely successful in what we
did. One of our team members, CPL Marc
Danieletto, was also awarded this year a
Commendation for Distinguished Service for his
work on the same deployment."
CPL Avery arrived in Afghanistan in October 2010
as a member of 5RAR's Battle Group Tiger and MTF
2. His four-man sniper team was first deployed
to Forward Operating Base Hadrian in Deh Rawud
and then sent out to the Tangi Valley to Patrol
Base Anarjoy. The base was 3km from the town of
Derapet, a known hotspot where 6RAR's LCPL Jared
MacKinney was killed during a major battle with
insurgents a few months earlier.Just after lunch
on December 4, 2010, an OMLT patrol consisting
of 11 Australian and 15 ANA soldiers left PB
Anarjoy headed for Derapet.
"Our four-man sniper call sign decided to split
in two as there weren't many Australians on the
patrol and we wanted to put the 338 Blazer
sniper rifle in an overwatch position while
myself and PTE Grant Robins, with our
semi-automatic SR-25s, moved with the patrol
members on the low ground," CPL Avery said.
As they entered Derapet, the patrol members
noticed a large number of local men watching
"We started seeing a lot of vehicles and
families moving out of town, which was a sign to
us something was going to happen," he said.
"At this point CPL Danieletto and PTE Rolston
reported from overwatch they could see a large
number of armed insurgents approaching Derapet
from the north."
As the patrol was moving along the town side of
the tree line near the aqueduct, they started to
take sporadic small-arms fire. Their four-man
lead engineer element began taking RPG fire,
which fell short of their position.
"We then moved into the aqueduct to take cover
and we began to move forward towards the firing
insurgents," CPL Avery said.
"As I was one of the lead guys in the aqueduct,
I moved forward when the engineers got pinned
down in an alleyway by PKM machine gun fire and
by a group of insurgents about 25 metres in
front of them." He continued to move forward and
engaged an insurgent trying to escape.
"He was trying to get away from me by climbing
over a wall," he said.
"I fired a couple of shots from the hip at him,
as I was moving low."
"After he got over the wall he fired back with
his rifle and then one of his mates fired an RPG
CPL Avery then crawled over the aqueduct bank up
to the pinned-down engineers.
"I fired a few rounds with my SR-25 into where I
could see them moving," he said. "They also had
a machinegun flanking position, which upped his
rate of fire to cover his guys in the lead
coming towards us.
"The machinegun must have run out of ammunition
as the fire stopped and we were able to withdraw
to a wall as insurgents began to aggressively
manoeuvre towards and fire at us."
The patrol members then conducted a fighting
withdrawal out of the aqueduct into a compound
where they regrouped and established a defensive
position. This gave the insurgents time to
"I remember hearing one of them yelling out
'Allah Akbar' and it seemed like he was trying
to fire up his mates;' CPL Avery said.
"I took out a grenade, threw it out towards them
then fired a couple of rounds at them too."
This slowed the insurgents and he and his mates
began a fighting withdrawal through the
compound, tossing grenades over walls into the
aqueduct, firing their weapons and dodging RPGs.
The insurgents only stopped pursuing the patrol
after two AH-64 Apaches came to their
assistance, strafing the aqueduct with 20mm
"After the Apaches did their job we were able to
break clean and patrol through Derapet back to
the patrol base."
After returning to PB Anarjoy the patrol
estimated they had come in contact with at least
30 insurgents during the three-and-half-hour
"Two weeks later in the
same area, I counted a minimum of 45
armed insurgents as they tried to hit one of our
other patrols," he said.
The contact exposed him for the first time to a
different type of combat he'd only seen from a
"Before December 4, the only fire fights I'd
been in were as a sniper from long range," he
"It was an eye opener for me and I had a couple
of close calls where I was nearly shot in the
head or torso. "I realised the insurgents
weren't playing around and didn't care if they
"The contact was exhilarating, fighting with my
None of CPL Avery's patrol members were wounded
during the December 4 contact.
During the contact, CPL Avery was primarily
concentrating on withdrawing his patrol safely,
but he had another important reason to survive.
"At the time my
wife was pregnant with our daughter,
Sunny, and I thought I'd like to see Australia
and her again," he said.
He returned to Australia in June 2011,
in time to see his daughter born.
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