By Michael Mckeand
A Gurkha soldier has been awarded the second highest medal for bravery after fighting off over a dozen Taliban soldiers single-handed. Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun was on sentry duty at a checkpoint near Babaji in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in September last year when insurgents opened fire on the compound from all sides.
Sergent Pun, 31 from Ashford in Kent, found himself trapped by an onslaught of firepower from rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s. In retaliation, he fired off more than 400 rounds of ammunition, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine. At one point, when his rifle failed, he resorted to throwing the tripod of his machine gun at an insurgent who tried to climb a ladder to where he took cover.
Acting Sergeant Pun said he was “a lucky guy” and was very proud to receive the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
Recalling the incident, he said: “As soon as it was confirmed they were Taliban, I was really scared, But as soon as I opened fire that was gone. I just thought ‘Before they kill me I have to kill some.’ I thought they were going to kill me after a couple of minutes, definitely.”
Acting Sergeant Pun, originally from the village of Bima in Nepal, whose father and grandfather were both also Gurkhas, believed at the time there were about 30 attackers. He was told later by villagers it was more like 12 or 15.
The citation on the medal states that he saved the lives of three comrades who were in the checkpoint at the time. “I think I am a very lucky guy, a survivor,” he said. “Now I am getting this award, it is very great and I am very happy.”