NEWS

Wailoku Honours Former Soldiers

Veteran soldiers who had served the country were honoured yesterday during the Waibula Koro Mission Church service at St John Primary School in Wailoku, Suva. The special remembrance service was
14 Nov 2016 12:18
Wailoku Honours Former Soldiers
From left to right: Reverend Akuila Talemaitoga, Revd. Billy Chand (back), Osea Tagicakibau, Tomu Oisali, Pita Manivora and Semi Vanua during the Waibula Koro Mission Church service in Wailoku, Suva yesterday Photo: Ashna Kumar

Veteran soldiers who had served the country were honoured yesterday during the Waibula Koro Mission Church service at St John Primary School in Wailoku, Suva.

The special remembrance service was to honour “blackbirded” Solomon Islanders and descendants who served in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. Between 1870 and 1911, thousands of Solomon Islanders were brought to Fiji to work as labourers in the cotton and sugar fields. Many of the early labourers were brought by illegal means known as “Blackbirding”.

At the service, 84-year-old retired gunner, Tomu Oisali could still remember the time he spent in the military, just like it was yesterday.

In sharing his story as a young man making the journey with his military brothers, Mr Oisali said: “I had made some really good friends and brothers during my time in the military.

“I wasn’t in the military for a long period of time but everything about it kept amazing me at every step I learned. I clearly remember the guns were black in colour; heavy and contained six inch bullets.

“My first time testing was very difficult as I was confident but nervous inside but then I had the help of my commander and brothers who helped me work hard on how to handle it.

“I always encourage my family to become strong and serve our country because nothing else makes you feel as proud as you will be by serving for your country.”

Also at the service was retired RFMF staff sergeant, Osea Tagicakibau, 57, who said he joined the army for the sole purpose to serve his people.

“I have been in the military for more than 20 years and I have much pleasure in serving my country, for my people,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that I retired but I loved my job as a military man.”

He said the many trips he made to Lebanon and Sinai were some of the best memories he had as a military man.

“Living overseas was not easy, but it was made possible through team,” Mr Tagicakibau said.

“Everything we did was for our country and we knew that we have to prove ourselves to be the best.

“I share some of my life’s best memories while I was overseas.”

Among other military veterans honoured was Semi Vanua, who was represented by his brother, Samuela. Mr Vanua was killed in Iraq while serving in the British Army.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj]



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