During his third deployment to Afghanistan, Australia's Sgt. Brett Wood was killed by an improvised explosive device on Monday while patrolling on foot. He was the 24th Australian soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan.
Wood will most likely be remembered by U.S. forces for his actions in 2006 that earned him Australia's Medal of Gallantry, the country's third-highest honor for battlefield valor.
Wood was leading a team in a platoon working with a U.S. company from the 10th Mountain Division clearing an insurgent sanctuary in Chora Valley when the Americans came under rocket and small arms fire, according to his medal citation. The Australians were caught in thick vegetation when four rockets landed on them, injuring Wood's foot, knee and hand, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports.
Then-corporal Wood didn't tell his commander he'd been wounded when he obeyed his leader's order to charge forward, the citation states.
"Under these daunting conditions Corporal Wood commenced this task without hesitation, completing a rapid and aggressive clearance of numerous threat compounds," the citation for his medal says.
After the initial attack was beaten back, Wood then led a sniper team into insurgent territory and killed seven insurgents, The Australian newspaper reports.
U.S. ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich told The Australian: "We honour his courageous service. That included valiantly leading his platoon to clear enemy positions that were pinning down an infantry company of the United States Army's 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan in July 2006. He fought bravely as part of our common mission to eliminate terror from the lives of the Afghan people to restore their home to them and to ensure that our own nations are safe. Vale, Sergeant Brett Wood."
Wood was 32 and leaves behind a wife, Elvi Wood. In addition to three tours in Afghanistan, Wood also served in Iraq and East Timor, and was awarded several medals and citations for his service, according the Australian Defence Department.
There are currently 1,550 Australian Defence Force personnel who are deployed within Afghanistan, according to the Defence Force's website, representing the largest non-NATO commitment of troops to the fight there.