Victoria Cross recipient inspires Bundaberg Region students


Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith was in Bundaberg this week meeting student leaders and local police.

Roberts-Smith was invested with the Victoria Cross by then Governor-General Quentin Bryce in 2011, becoming the second operator at the Special Air Service Regiment to receive the award.

The medal was for his actions during a helicopter assault in Afghanistan to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander. The citation reads:

“For the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as a Patrol Second-in-Command with the Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.”

In 2014, Roberts-Smith was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service as a patrol commander with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan from June to November 2012.

Roberts-Smith was part of a special leadership presentation provided to Bundaberg Region student leaders, organised by school-based Police Officer Senior Constable Mick Gray.

Students from across Bundaberg, Childers and Gin Gin travelled to St Luke's Anglican School to participate in what was a memorable and inspirational session.

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith
Sergeant Meg Owens, Senior Constable Mick Grey and Detective Sergeant Cameron Schneider with Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith.

Roberts-Smith spoke about the events that led to him being awarded the Victoria Cross.

He linked the actions that day, and those of other SAS engagements, back to what it takes to be a leader and the tough decisions that form part of that role.

He encouraged students to speak out, as even the most inexperienced team member should be able to have a say.

Roberts-Smith answered questions from the students, provided advice for those who wished to join the armed forces, and described his audience with the Queen.

His brilliant recount and vivid description of his unit’s experience in Afghanistan had a profound impact on all present.

Afterwards, Roberts-Smith met with local police officers and thanked them for the work that they do in the community.