K548053, Sergeant, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
Queen's Gallantry Medal
On 2 August 1988 Sergeant Akurangi was supervising a live grenade throwing practice for Territorial Force Recruits at Waiouru.
A recruit and Sergeant Akurangi were standing side by side in a grenade throwing bay preparing to throw the first of two M67 high explosive fragmentation grenades. The recruit, in the process of removing the safety bail from the grenade, accidentally loosened his grip which allowed the safety lever to be released thereby arming the grenade. This type of grenade has a lethal radius of eight metres and remains extremely dangerous out to 15 metres. Once armed it explodes in approximately four seconds.
The recruit froze, holding the armed grenade.
Sergeant Akurangi, immediately realizing the danger, calmly asked for the grenade. When the recruit failed to respond, Sergeant Akurangi forcibly removed the grenade from the recruit's hand and threw it out of the bay. He pushed the recruit to the ground and by calling "grenade" ensured that personnel in the adjoining bay were able to react appropriately.
The grenade exploded in the air at very close range to Sergeant Akurangi's throwing bay and within a second of being thrown. His alertness, speed of reaction and presence of mind certainly saved both the recruit's and his own life. His professional sense of responsibility to the recruit testifies to his selfless bravery.
Queen;s Gallantry Medal