You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Heroic NZ soldier picks up rare award

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/06/2016 Catherine Wylie, Press Association
Major Geoffrey Faraday, after he received a New Zealand Gallantry Star from the Prince of Wales for gallantry in the field in Southern Sudan, at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. © Dominic Lipinski/PRESS ASSOCIATION Major Geoffrey Faraday, after he received a New Zealand Gallantry Star from the Prince of Wales for gallantry in the field in Southern Sudan, at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.

A New Zealand army major has picked up a rarely given award for bravery following his actions during a brutal attack of "senseless violence" that left 53 people dead.

Major Geoffrey Faraday, 39, of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps, has become only the third person to receive the New Zealand Gallantry Star, awarded to him for gallantry in the field in South Sudan.

The officer, who has since left the army, was working as a military liaison officer for the United Nations in April 2014 when an armed mob of demonstrators approached a UN-protected camp packed with 5000 people.

The gang of protesters, a mob of roughly 250, breached the camp perimeter and began to unexpectedly attack the occupants with rifles and machetes.

Maj Faraday co-ordinated soldiers to defend the camp, and at one stage attempted to personally intervene while under threat by an armed attacker.

After picking up his gong, New Zealand's second-highest gallantry award, from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, he said: "There was a lot of senseless violence."

The attack left 53 civilians dead and afterwards the major was one of the few people who went into the camp to search for those in need of medical attention.

Maj Faraday said one of the most vivid images he can recall is picking up a small child with a machete wound across its chest.

"It was still alive. It did subsequently die," he said, describing the scenes as "sad to see".

About a week later, there was an ambush while Maj Faraday was deployed on a convoy of barges taking food and supplies along the White Nile River.

The convoy came under heavy attack from a company of the South Sudanese People's Liberation Army and the barge the major was on became detached from the rest of the convoy.

He took control of the incident, which turned out to be four hours of being under constant fire.

He provided leadership, ensured the four casualties were being attended to, and exposed himself to enemy fire before extracting them out of the situation.

His actions are said to have prevented loss of life among the convoy's 72 civilian and military personnel.

Speaking about receiving the award, he said: "It's a huge honour. It's a massive honour."

He thanked his New Zealand colleagues and said he could not have done what he did without them.

He also spoke of his hopes for the South Sudanese people, adding: "I've got to hope that the peace process lasts and continues because they're the ones that suffer. I was there for six months. They're there for the rest of their lives."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon