NEWS

Ratu Epeli: Thorpe’s Legacy Lives On

Representing Fiji at the funeral were former Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander and current Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and RFMF Commander Rear Admiral Vil­iame Naupoto.
09 Mar 2019 19:29
Ratu Epeli: Thorpe’s Legacy Lives On
From left: Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto, the late Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Ian Thorpe’s wife, Patiricia and Speaker of the House Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Photo: RFMF Media Cell

The casket of decorated officer, the late Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Ian Thorpe who served New Zealand and Fiji was draped with the flags of both countries at the Roto­rua chapel.

A piece of masi and tabua was also placed at the foot of the casket.

When the casket was marched out of the chapel to the gun carriage, it was done to the tune of Isa Lei from a re­corded version of the RFMF band, both brass and sung.

Representing Fiji at the funeral were former Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander and current Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and RFMF Commander Rear Admiral Vil­iame Naupoto.

Ratu Epeli said Brigadier Ian Thorpe’s legacy lived on in Fiji and all its people.

“We salute a great soldier who gave a great service to everything he called on,” Ratu Epeli said.

The casket of the late Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Ian Thorpe draped with the Fijian and New Zealand flags, signifying that these were the countries he served. Photo: RFMF Media Cell

The casket of the late Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Ian Thorpe draped with the Fijian and New Zealand flags, signifying that these were the countries he served. Photo: RFMF Media Cell

Military life

Brigadier Thorpe was Commander of the then Royal Fiji Military Forces 1979 – October, 1982.

He was later Commandant of the Of­ficers Training School in Vatuwaqa.

He first served with Fijian forces in the Malayan Emergency 1954-1956.

Brigadier Thorpe was a career mili­tary man who at 17 commenced his military studies at the Royal Military College in Duntroon, Australia. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant before furthering his studies at the British Staff College and the British Joint Ser­vices Staff College in England.

He served in action in two major con­flicts.

Brigadier Thorpe was appointed Com­mander of the New Zealand Forces in Vietnam in 1964 to 1966. His initial in­volvement with the Fijian military was during the Malayan Emergency Cam­paign in 1954 to 1956 when he was on secondment as a Lieutenant to the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment.

Upon his retirement from the New Zealand Army in 1979, Brigadier Thor­pe was then seconded to the Royal Fiji Military Forces and appointed Com­mander on 23 February 1979. Before relinquishing his appointment in Oc­tober 1982, Brigadier Thorpe success­fully planned and put together a con­tingent to serve under the Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe Truce Supervision Force. Despite numerous obstacles, he was also successful in training and deploy­ing a battalion on March 1982 to serve under the Multinational Force Observ­ers in the Sinai Peninsula.

His visionary leadership saw him take special interest in middle rank officers to ensure that they are battle tested to take over the reins at the end of his tenure.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

 

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