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GALLANTRY AWARD    

SQNLDR Ben Pryor awarded the New Zealand Gallantry Award
Squadron Leader Ben Pryor

On 22 April 2012, FLTLT Pryor was captain of the lead Chinook medium-lift helicopter of an eight-ship aviation assault with the Special Forces Support Group. During a complex multi-ship formation landing in very challenging environmental conditions, with almost-zero visibility at times, his aircraft came under intense enemy fire. FLTLT Pryor abandoned his initial approach after his aircraft was hit three times in the vicinity of the cockpit, but elected to make a second approach in order to get his troops onto the ground in support of their colleagues. Showing remarkable courage in the face of extreme danger, he landed the aircraft in the same area and effected the safe disembarkation of his troops whilst directing effective suppressive fire from the aircraft’s weapon system.

During May 2012 FLTLT Pryor took part in a number of casualty evacuation missions. One in particular took place on 23 May 2012, when he was required to conduct the emergency evacuation of a casualty who had suffered a traumatic gunshot wound to the neck during a fire-fight in the Green Zone of the Southern Helmand province. While the casualty was being prepared for evacuation, the Chinook came under heavy enemy fire at the emergency landing site. Despite this, FLTLT Pryor kept the aircraft on the ground until the medical team was able to recover the casualty onto the aircraft. After informing the crew of his intentions, he directed the number two crewman to engage with the enemy with one of the aircraft’s weapon systems.

While still under sustained fire, FLTLT Pryor extracted the aircraft from the landing site, and returned the casualty to the safety of medical facilities at Camp Bastion. This was the second time in as many months that FLTLT Pryor had displayed calmness, courage, and professionalism in a situation of intense pressure and while under enemy fire.

His gallantry award was announced on 20 April, and a formal presentation of the award is to take place later in the year.

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