THE second SAS soldier in two years will be awarded the nation's highest military honour the Victoria Cross for Australia.
The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, and senior political leaders including Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will travel to Perth this Sunday for the investiture ceremony at Campbell Barracks.
They will be joined by military brass including Chief of Defence Air Marshal Angus Houston and Army Chief Lieutenant- General Ken Gillespie at the headquarters of the Special Air Service Regiment at Swanbourne near Perth. Details are being very closely guarded and defence sources were tight-lipped yesterday.
The office of the Governor-General did not return calls and Defence would not comment.
Rumours have been circulating for some time that an unnamed SAS corporal engaged in an intense battle in the Shah Wali Kot region of Northern Kandahar last October could be nominated for the top honour.
A special forces task group had just hit the ground in a helicopter assault during the hunt for a key Taliban commander when the troops came under withering fire.
In the ensuing firefight four commandos were wounded including one shot in the chest.
The Victoria Cross for Australia is awarded for conspicuous gallantry in battle and was created in 1991.
It was first awarded to SAS Trooper Mark Donaldson by Ms Bryce at Government House in Canberra in January 2009 for gallantry in action during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in 2008.
Donaldson has become a public figure since his award and it is understood that any future special forces VC winners will have the option of identity protection.
The VC was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856 after the Crimean War. The brass crosses are made from Russian cannons captured in that conflict.
The only other surviving VC winner was Vietnam Veteran Keith Payne.