The New Zealand Gallantry Medal (NZGM) has been
awarded to Squadron Leader (then Flight Lieutenant)
Benjamin Mark Pryor, now serving in 488 Wing HQ, Ohakea. During April and May 2012 (then) Flt Lt Pryor served as a
helicopter pilot on secondment to the Royal Air force in
support of the British forces in Afghanistan.
On 22 April 2012, Flt Lt 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. Flt Lt 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.
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 Flt Lt 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, Flt Lt 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, Flt Lt 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 Flt Lt 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 2013, and a formal presentation of the
award took place later in the year.
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