Gurkhas are incredible soldiers who live, eat, breath and sleep an amazing tradition associated with the British Army. From the tiny country of Nepal, these soldiers are, many times, legacy soldiers – 3rd or 4th generation serving in the 1st Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles. And they hold themselves to the highest standards and traditions imaginable. So when you read that one of them did something like this, well, if you know their history, you’re still in awe, but you’re not that surprised. This is another brilliant and valorous chapter in their storied history.
The fight occurred at a remote checkpoint. The story is amazing:
‘At that time I wasn’t worried, there wasn’t any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint, I was alone.
‘I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I’d kill as many of them as I could before they killed me.
Statement like that are stunning in their simple logic and the resolve they inspire. OK, odds are I’m going to die – so I’m going to make that noteworthy. A lot of times it is denial of reality (even if it doesn’t end up working out that way) that get people killed. Cpl Pun looked at the situation realistically, calculated the odds, made what I’d call the proper assessment and that drove his action. And it is that action which helped him beat the odds. Also note that he was resigned to being killed. No quitting, no surrender, no quarter asked and, as you’ll see, none given:
Cpl Pun, an acting sergeant during his Afghan deployment, was on sentry duty at the time of the attack when he heard a clinking noise outside the small base.
At first he thought it might be a donkey or a cow, but when he went to investigate he found two insurgents digging a trench to lay an improvised explosive device (IED) at the checkpoint’s front gate.
He realised that he was completely surrounded and that the Taliban were about to launch a well-planned attempt to overrun the compound.
The enemy opened fire from all sides, destroying the sentry position where the soldier had been on duty minutes before.
Defending the base from the roof, the Gurkha remained under continuous attack from rocket-propelled grenades and AK47s for more than a quarter of an hour.
Most of the militants were about 50ft away from him, but at one point he turned around to see a ‘huge’ Taliban fighter looming over him.
The soldier picked up his machine gun and fired a long burst at the man until he fell off the roof.
When another insurgent tried to climb up to his position, the Gurkha attempted to shoot him with his SA80 rifle. But it did not work, either because it had jammed or because the magazine was empty.
He first grabbed a sandbag but it had not been tied up and the contents fell to the floor.
Then he seized the metal tripod of his machine gun and threw it at the approaching Taliban militant, shouting in Nepali ‘Marchu talai’ (‘I will kill you’) and knocking him down.
Two insurgents were still attacking by the time the heroic Gurkha had used up all his ammunition, but he set off a Claymore mine to repel them.
In all he killed 30. When relief arrived, he was unwounded:
In total he fired off 250 general purpose machine gun rounds, 180 SA80 rounds, six phosphorous grenades, six normal grenades, five underslung grenade launcher rounds and one Claymore mine.
More importantly, he was still in control of the checkpoint and the Taliban had retreated. He was also out of ammunition.
As for tradition and legacy:
The only weapon he did not use was the traditional Kukri knife carried by Gurkhas because he did not have his with him at the time.
The married soldier, whose father and grandfather were also Gurkhas, is originally from the village of Bima in western Nepal but now lives in Ashford, Kent.
Finally, from his Conspicuous Gallantry Cross citation (just under the Victoria Cross and equal to our Distinguished Service Cross or Navy Cross):
‘Pun could never know how many enemies were attempting to overcome his position, but he sought them out from all angles despite the danger, consistently moving towards them to reach the best position of attack.’
He attacked. He didn’t defend. He attacked.
Both amazing and awe inspiring.