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Prince Harry And Meghan In Fiji: Statue Unveils Emotions For Labalaba Family

Prince Harry unveils bronze statue of famed SAS Fijian war hero. Merewairita Liku, 69, reminisced how her elder brother, the late Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba left them to join the British
26 Oct 2018 12:20
Prince Harry And Meghan In Fiji: Statue Unveils Emotions For Labalaba Family
Former British Army soldiers at the unveiling of the bronze statue of the late Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba - one of the greatest war heroes of the famed British Special Air Service (SAS). Photo: DEPTFO News

Prince Harry unveils bronze statue of famed SAS Fijian war hero.

Merewairita Liku, 69, reminisced how her elder brother, the late Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba left them to join the British Army.

“No one at home knew he was going to join the British Army. He worked on it silently until the day he told us that he was going to leave us,” she said.

“My mother was a little disappointed, but we knew that it was for the best of everybody.”

Ms Liku spoke to Fiji Sun yesterday after the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, unveiled the bronze statue of Sergeant Labalaba at the Nadi International Airport.

Known as one of the greatest heroes of the famed British Special Air Service (SAS), Sergeant Labalaba was one of 212 Fijians recruited into the British Army in 1961. He joined the Royal Ulster Rifles. Later he won a place in the elite Special Air Service where he served with distinction. He was among an SAS unit sent to Oman where the British were engaged in a “secret” war. He died defending his comrades on July 19, 1972, at the Battle of Mirbat, when he ran through heavy fire to man a 25-pound gun – usually operated by a team of up to six men – to hold back the enemy even after sustaining a bullet wound to his jaw. He single-handedly held off 250 attackers from overwhelming them until help arrived. He died from his wounds.

“Today is an emotional day for the Labalaba family and the people of Nawaka,” Ms Liku said.

“My brother was a very humble and kind-hearted man. I was only 12 years old when he left, but we still miss him.”

When questioned on seeing the Royal couple, she said: “I am so happy to see the Prince and his wife Meghan,” she said.

Ms Liku is a retired nurse, she is the second eldest in the family of eight.

There was a special War Medal investiture ceremony by the President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote, to Labalaba’s son Isaia Dere Labalaba, 53, and Sergeant Labalaba’s comrade Sekonaia Takavesi Wakolo.

Isaia acknowledged and thanked Prince Harry for unveiling his father’s statue.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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