Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith is leaving the Army after 17 years of service and will head back to university to undertake business studies, according to this report from the national television news service, Sky News Australia.

Corporal Roberts-Smith, Australia's most decorated modern soldier who also received a Medal for Gallantry for extreme heroism under fire, will continue to serve in the Army Reserve, the Australian Defence Force says.

The ABC reported that he will begin studying part-time for a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Queensland next year, with a view to a future corporate career. 

Corporal Roberts-Smith says he has achieved his goals in the military and it is "the right time" for him to pursue a long-held desire to further his education.

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…greatest honour…

 

 

"It has been a great honour to serve my country for the last 17 years," he said in a statement."I have been extremely privileged to serve alongside some of the best men and women in Australia.

"My time within the Special Air Service Regiment has been the highlight of my military career and I will always look back on my service without regret, and proud to be able to count myself among their number.

"Having been fortunate enough to achieve my goals within Defence, I have decided that now is the right time to pursue other opportunities including further education, which is something I have always been keen to do."

He thanked his wife, Emma, and daughters Eve and Elizabeth, saying that "none of the experiences I have had would have been possible without their support".

 

He said he looked forward to continuing to serve in the Army Reserve, and working with various Defence Force charities.

Having enlisted in the Australian Army in 1996, Corporal Roberts-Smith was chosen for the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in 2003 and over the next decade deployed to South-East Asia, Fiji, Iraq and Afghanistan.

…Victoria Cross…

 

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia in 2011 for his role in assaulting enemy machine gun positions in Afghanistan while the rest of his squad was pinned down.

 

Corporal Roberts-Smith, who donated his medal to the Australian War Memorial, is one of only three recipients of the Victoria Cross for Australia, which takes is name and design from the Victoria Cross created by Queen Victoria in 1856  and made retrospective to 1854 to cover the Crimean War.

Until the Victoria Cross for Australia was created in 1991, Australians were eligible for the Victoria Cross and other awards under the Imperial system of honours. Before today 98 Australians had been awarded the Victoria Cross, dating back to the Boer War.

The two other recipients of the Australian honour are Corporal Mark Donaldson VC, also a member of the special forces, and Corporal Daniel Keighran VC, who was serving with the 6th Battalion RAR.