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Republic of Fiji Military Forces Celebrates Infantry Day

Ratu Epeli Nailatikau emphasised how Infantry Day was personal to him and others like him because Infantry Day was introduced to commemorate the late Corporal Sefania Sukunaivalu, who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Solomon campaign in World War II.
25 Jun 2019 17:30
Republic of Fiji Military Forces Celebrates Infantry Day
From left, Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho, 3FIR CO Lieutenant-Colonel Penioni Naliva, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President Jioji Konrote, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Ioane Naivalurua and Chief of Navy Captain (Navy) Humphrey Tawake. Photo: RFMF Media Cell

In the history of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), it is considered a rare occasion for servicemen and women to dine with the President, their Commander-in-Chief, early in their military careers.

Speaking at the Infantry Day formal dinner on Friday June 21 at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel, chief guest and Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said it was am honour and privilege for those in attendance and that it should never be forgotten.

“Appreciate this moment. Your Excellency we are honoured and privileged to have you with us this evening,” Ratu Epeli said.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau during the Infantry Day formal dinner at the Grand Pacific Hotel.  Photo: RFMF Media Cell

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau during the Infantry Day formal dinner at the Grand Pacific Hotel. Photo: RFMF Media Cell

Ratu Epeli Nailatikau emphasised how Infantry Day was personal to him and others like him because Infantry Day was introduced to commemorate the late Corporal Sefania Sukunaivalu, who paid the ultimate sacrifice  during the Solomon campaign in World War II.

“It is the day of remembrance, which we remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice, the defence of our nation and abroad,” he said.

“You may have heard many incidences of this event of how Corporal Sukunaivalu’s platoon was ambushed in Mawaraka on 23rd June, 1944. Corporal Sukunaivalu voluntarily came forth to rescue some of the wounded… in the process of rescuing two men, was injured on the thighs.

“He signalled his men not to rescue him, however disregarded his orders and continued on. All their failed attempts resulted in more casualties. To save his man from enemy frontline, Corporal Sukunaivalu raised himself in front of Japanese machine guns and was shot.

“We will never forget our soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War I, World War II, Lebanon, Sinai, Iraq and those soldiers who lost their lives during the military mutiny in 2001.”

More than 400 servicemen and women, together with President Jioji Konrote, Ratu Epeli, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, senior military officers, Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho, and military attachés from the United States and Australia were also present at the dinner.

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