Britain's newest hero is a Nepali.
Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday awarded Britain's second-highest award for bravery, the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, to Acting Sgt. Dipprasad Pun of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
While stationed as a lone sentry at a checkpoint in Afghanistan's Helmand province on September 17, Pun fended off an attack by up to 30 Taliban fighters.
"There were many Taliban around me," Pun said in an interview with British Forces News. "I thought they are definitely going to kill me. ... I thought before they kill me I have to kill some of them."
During the 15-minute battle, Pun fired more than 400 rounds of ammunition, detonated 17 grenades and a mine and even threw his gun tripod at a Taliban fighter climbing toward his position, according to British Forces News.
"He was just about to climb up there and I hit (him) with my tripod and he fell down again," Pun told British Forces News.
Pun's actions saved the lives of three fellow soldiers at the checkpoint and were the "bravest seen in his battalion over two hard tours in Afghanistan," according to his medal citation.
Pun was not wounded in the firefight.
â??That he survived unscathed is simply incredible," his medal citation says. â??Throughout Dipâ??s actions he was under almost constant intense fire. Dipâ??s courage and gallantry were simply astonishing."
Pun, 31, joined the British military in 2000 and also has served in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Like other Gurkhas, Pun is from Nepal. The Gurkhas were incorporated into British forces after their fighting skill impressed the opposition British during the Nepal Wars of 1814 to 1816. As part of the peace treaty ending that conflict, Gurkhas were admitted into East India Company's army and then into the British military.
Gurkhas recruited solely in Nepal remain Nepalese citizens during their service. Gurkha unit officers are British.