Humble war hero makes family proud

WHEN Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith received the Victoria Cross on Monday he made his young god-daughter Laney Smith in Karalee the happiest girl in the world.

Laney’s mother Josie Smith, who went to school with Corporal Roberts-Smith’s wife Emma in Ipswich, also stood proudly in silence in her lounge room as she watched the presentation ceremony on TV.

“My daughter Laney is 10 and she is absolutely thrilled to know that she has godparents like that,” Mrs Smith said.

“You wouldn’t want to have anyone better. Ben has done the most honourable thing. It has made us mighty proud.

“Emma has endured being separated from Ben at times and deserves to have some praise too.”

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, 32, was awarded the Victoria Cross for selflessly putting himself in the line of fire to kill two Taliban machine-gunners during an intense shootout in Afghanistan last year.

He was also awarded the Medal of Gallantry in 2006. The two-metre-tall serviceman has left his mark on all that encounter him – no matter what the circumstances.

“My husband met Ben for the first time in 2006 and he will never forget the experience – just the size of the man and the aura around him. He is an amazing person,” Mrs Smith said.

Josie Smith and Emma Roberts-Smith (nee Groom) attended Brassall State School and Ipswich Girls’ Grammar and have remained close friends ever since.

Josie was Emma’s only bridesmaid at the Roberts-Smith wedding in Perth and the pair often reminisce over old times in Ipswich.

“Emma is very proud of her family history and the connection to Ipswich – and she doesn’t let Ben forget it either,” Mrs Smith said.

Meanwhile Corporal Roberts-Smith played down his heroics and urged his compatriots to remember the Diggers who had died in battle in Afghanistan.

“These are the guys who put their hands up willingly and they didn’t come back,” Corporal Roberts-Smith said.

“They are our mates and their families live with that every day. So I really urge the public to remember they are the heroes, they are the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Corporal Roberts-Smith added that he was convinced the war in Afghanistan was reducing the risk of terrorism in Australia.

“I want my children to be able to live as everyone does now without the fear of getting on a bus and having it blow up.”

War facts

War started on October 7, 2001

119, 819 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops deployed

Australia has 1550 military personnel in Afghanistan

21 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members have been killed

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