A tribute to a Riverland war hero

A YEAR has passed since former Loxton local Kirsty Boden died as she rushed to help others during the terror attack that ultimately led to her being dubbed the ‘angel of London Bridge’.
The 28-year-old nurse ran towards danger while others fled and sacrificed her life in the hope of saving others.
As I looked back on the articles my shaken colleagues and I wrote last June, I felt the same sense of admiration I experience when watching or reading about selfless World War heroes.
It seems fitting that on the eve of Kirsty’s death, my partner and I chose to have a Saturday night in and watched the biographical war drama Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson.
I found this true story of American World War II hero and army medic Private Desmond T. Doss incredibly inspiring.
Doss became the first conscientious objector to receive a Congressional Medal of Honour – America’s highest military award.
While he is today recognised for single-handedly saving 75 soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa, the Seventh-day Adventist Christian was treated with contempt and hostility by his fellow soldiers for refusing to carry any weapons or kill his enemy.
Despite Doss’s refusal to harm others, he still wanted to serve his country by helping them, and what’s even more striking is he did just that without compromising his personal convictions.
When command called to retreat, Doss remained and tended the wounded under fire, evacuating them from behind enemy lines. He ran over the trenches of the Hacksaw Ridge battleground into almost certain death, and I believe his courage can be compared to Kirsty’s when she ran unarmed into the face of terror.
Since her death, Kirsty’s British boyfriend James Hodder has organised an online fundraiser that has already tallied more than $38,700 for The Smith Family charity and UK-based animal welfare organisation, The Blue Cross.
Kirsty’s bravery has been recognised in numerous ways, including through a scholarship program in her name, and the nurse was posthumously honoured with a Flinders University alumnus award in January.
However, similar to the recognition of Private Doss, I’d like to see Kirsty awarded with an Australian Victoria Cross, for her valour in the presence of the enemy.
The Riverland ‘angel’ should be honoured like a World War soldier for her valour and sacrifice during the war on terror.
I hope in the years to come, her story is captured on paper or film and that her legacy lives on and encourages people to live their lives without giving into fear.

Sara Gilligan


Sara Gilligan completed a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Writing and Creative Communication at the University of South Australia in 2014. She has spent the past year working as a journalist at the Murray Pioneer's sister paper The River News in Waikerie. Sara grew up in the Adelaide Hills before moving to the Riverland to pursue her career. She enjoys reading, writing and exploring the outdoors.

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