Part 5: ‘Wearing the voodoo doll comes with honour, pride’

31st October 2018 7:52 AM
UPDATED 8th November 11:04 AM
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THE Nursing Service Cross, the highest honour for an Australian combat medic, had never been awarded to the same person twice until Sergeant Jonathan Walter.

The founding member of the elite group of Australian soldiers dedicated to patching up our special forces on the front line sat with The Daily Telegraph as part of the Voodoo Medics documentary series.

Walter joined the Australian Defence Force in 2000 at the age of 17, joking he was not old enough to sign up, so his mother "received that honour and signed my life away".

He received his first NSC just three years later in 2003 after saving the life of a young boy who had fallen off a cliff in East Timor and injured his head.

"It's our job, but it's humbling to hear that people have seen this and wanted to honour it. A street was named after me at the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment that again was another surprise," Walter said.

The second time Walter was awarded the honour, formally known as receiving a Bar to the NSC, was for his efforts treating dozens of casualties after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside an Afghan police station.

Sergeant Jonathan Walter was one of the founding members of Voodoo Medics.
Sergeant Jonathan Walter was one of the founding members of Voodoo Medics.

Walter served almost 11 years in the military including three deployments to Afghanistan with the 2nd Commando Regiment and Special Air Service Regiment.

He was the medic on the ground when Signaller Sean McCarthy lost his life when the vehicle he was in drove over a 20kg explosive.

McCarthy's injuries were so severe that, using only the medical equipment available to him on the battlefield, Walter concentrated on procedures that would buy him time until a chopper arrived to fly McCarthy to hospital 90 minutes later.

Walter said the loss of his fellow soldier sunk in when he returned to base a few days later for McCarthy's ramp ceremony.

"It was a tangible feeling in the air that's for sure. A grim reminder of what Afghanistan can bring".

Voodoo Medics Sergeant Jonathan Walter spent nearly 11 years in the military. Picture: Supplied.
Voodoo Medics Sergeant Jonathan Walter spent nearly 11 years in the military. Picture: Supplied.

Walter designed the Voodoo Medics patch in 2008 and was instrumental in forming the Voodoo Medics group which is about combining "unconventional medicine and unconventional warfare".

"Now wearing the voodoo doll comes with a lot of prestige, honour and pride," he said.

"There's a huge demand on voodoo medics by the nature of their role, a huge responsibility and certain standard that they have to meet so it's a hard role to get into, and hard role to keep."

Walter discharged from the military in 2010 and has since embarked on a career with the Tasmanian Department of Emergency Services.

 

 

Like many returned medics, Jonathan Walter spends much of his free time surfing. Picture: Supplied.
Like many returned medics, Jonathan Walter spends much of his free time surfing. Picture: Supplied.