Trooper Donaldson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his act of gallantry during an ambush in Afghanistan. Trooper Donaldson is the first recipient of the Victoria Cross, which is the highest award in the Australian Honours System.
In September 2008, Trooper Donaldson was part of the Special Operations Task Group during Operation SLIPPER in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. Trooper Donaldson deliberately drew the enemy’s fire in order to allow wounded soldiers to be moved to safety. With complete disregard for his own safety and on his own initiative, he rescued a coalition interpreter who was lying motionless on exposed gunfire ground. Trooper Donaldson then rejoined his patrol and continued to engage the enemy while remaining exposed to heavy enemy fire.
Regarding this incident, Trooper Donaldson said: ‘I am a soldier, I am trained to fight...it is instinct and it is natural. I just saw him there, I went over and got him, that was it.’
Trooper Donaldson was presented with the Victoria Cross by the Governor-General in Canberra on 16th January 2009.
On 10 November 2009, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II invited Trooper Donaldson to a private audience at Windsor Castle and also to attend an official Remembrance Day ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London.
Trooper Donaldson, commented on his meeting with the Queen:
‘It's quite an amazing experience coming from Australia and a small country town and over here to a castle to see the Queen...It's quite outstanding and definitely an honour...This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and probably one of the most amazing things that's ever going to happen.’