“My name is Gary Wilson and I was deployed with the 2nd Commando Regiment as part of the Australian Special Operations Task Group (C/S NZ) in the Shah Wali Kot, and was one of the diggers on the ground for the battle of Eastern Shah Wali Kot.

I was positioned near the crest of one of the hills as an overwatch / cordon with my platoon commander, sergeant, medic, JTAC and one of our sniper teams. It was mid June so it was getting really bloody hot sitting in the sun with no shade getting shot at.

We’d received word that the Taliban had located either us or our other platoon on the adjacent hill and were going to begin engaging us. Then, we all heard the pop, and a bit of dust was kicked up over my equipment from right near my feet.

I shit myself and made myself as small of a target as possible when after hearing the pop my platoon sergeant yells out “contact” and the rest of the lads dug in for cover as best they could.

Then nothing, no more shots, so everyone gradually sits back up and keeps their eyes peeled.

I get back into my radio to keep working then thought, “shit, I need a smoke now” but couldn’t find my lighter. Our JTACs thermometer had died a little earlier that day when the temperature read 48 degrees celcius (118f)

And at my feet, remained little bits of shrapnel that used to be my lighter.

The rest of our platoon who were resting in a small shaded area at the base of the hill we were on radioed up to us and asked “are you guys still in contact?”

‘Nah, the Zulus lighter blew up’

Amongst all the explosions, gunfire and Apaches racing overhead, were could all hear the other lads’ laughing at us from down the hill.

No matter how much shit is hitting the fan all around us, there’s always time for a laugh.”
– Gary Wilson. 2nd Commando Regiment. Australian Operations Task Group (C/S NZ). Shah Wali Kot, Afghanistan. 2010.

This story was documented by Nicholas Laidlaw. Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.