How an SAS technique kept shot Kiwi soldier Craig Wilson alive

Former SAS member and Army Major Craig Wilson has told just how close to death he was on a battleground in Afghanistan, while others around him perished. 

In 2012, Afghan rebels rained down bullets at the Battle of Baghak - and Craig Wilson knows he's lucky to be alive.

"It's not the pain... it's the fear of death," he said. 

Our Kiwi Defence Force lost two New Zealand heroes in the shootout with the fighters.

Pralli Durrer was taken by a bullet from a sniper. Rory Malone was killed as he tried to save his leader Craig Wilson.

"My kids know who he is, and their kids will know who he is," Mr Wilson said of the man who saved him. "He will be never forgotten in our family."

A third planned killshot had instead pierced Craig's shoulder.

His right arm is now permanently paralysed, but it's the wounds you don't see that will never heal. That day will never leave the Kiwi veteran.

"I hadn't seen how bad the blood was, but I knew it was near the sub-clavian artery - so I was pretty bloody worried." 

He said that he had a near-death experience, but he "didn't see the pearly gates or anything". 

"What I did is I decided I was going to get back to my kids. So I bloody did," he recounted.

"In the SAS we used to do these survival exercises. You want to give up - you think you should give up. You think you are at the end of your tether, and the SAS teaches you that you don't give up until you are dead. 

"I just hung in there and thought 'Bring it on - trust the medics'. I did the best I could to keep breathing and keep regulating, doing what little I could."

He'd been an officer commanding an SAS squad alongside one of our most decorated soldiers, Willie Apiata. 

But on this day - in a barren land a million miles from home, covered in blood, with Taliban fighters screaming overhead - he refused to give up.

The former SAS member and Army Major is pictured with his family.
The former SAS member and Army Major is pictured with his family. Photo credit: Supplied.

One thought kept him alive: an image of his children without him in it. 

"Just for a minute, I thought it would suck to leave them there, without me. I had to fight it with a positive image.

"I had to fight it with something that I'd also put in my head, which was 'never give up' - luckily that won." 

Mr Wilson's new book is called Bravo Kiwi and will be available in the coming days.