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Trooper Mark Gregor Donaldson

Friday 13 December, 2019

Trooper Mark Gregor Donaldson

Special Air Service Regiment, Australian Army

2 September 2008, Ana Kalay Valley, Afghanistan


Mark Gregor Strang Donaldson was born on 2 April 1979 in Waratah, New South Wales.  His father, Gregor Donaldson, had served in the Vietnam War with 176 Air Despatch Company and had always told his son not to join the military.

Donaldson attended the local state and high schools with his brother, Brent and describes himself as a rebellious teen and a bit of a wild child at heart.

In 1995, when Donaldson was only 15 years old, his father died suddenly of a heart attack.  The young Donaldson became more rebellious in response to the tragic loss of his father, though he found refuge in music and art and towards the end of his Higher School Certificate he was awarded a scholarship to a college of fine arts in Sydney.  Unfortunately, only three years later, Donaldson’s mother was declared missing; she still to this day is presumed to have been a victim of a murder-suicide.

Following the loss of his parents, Donaldson became restless, jumping between jobs and travelling to the US and Canada before finally enlisting in the Australian Army as a rifleman in June 2002.  The young soldier was recognised for his fitness and marksmanship during training and in April 2004 he completed the two-month, physically demanding SASR selection course.

In 2005, Donaldson formed part of the security detail for the Chief of Army, Prime Minister and Minister for Defence on their visits to Iraq and Afghanistan.  He was part of the Special Forces Task Group that deployed to Afghanistan in May 2006. 

Donaldson was invested with his Victoria Cross award by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Government House on 16 January 2009.  In 2010, Donaldson was named Young Australian of the Year. 

Donaldson and his wife, Emma, have two children; a daughter, Kaylee, and a son Hamish. 


His citation reads:

For most conspicuous acts of gallantry in action in a circumstance of great peril in Afghanistan, as part of the Special Operations Task Group during Operation Slipper, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.  On 2 September 2008 Trooper Donaldson was outstanding in the manner in which he fought during a prolonged and effective enemy ambush.  On numerous occasions, he deliberately drew the enemy’s fire in order to allow wounded soldiers to be moved to safety.  As the battle raged around him he saw that a coalition interpreter was lying motionless on exposed ground.  With complete disregard for his own safety, on his own initiative and alone, Trooper Donaldson ran back eighty metres across exposed ground to rescue the interpreter and carry him back to a vehicle.  Trooper Donaldson then re-joined his patrol and continued to engage the enemy while remaining exposed to heavy enemy fire. 


Commonwealth of Australia Gazette

20 January 2009


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