NATION

NZDF Help Return Fallen Peacekeeper, WO1 Vatoga Home

WO1 Vatoga will be accorded a COVID-19 compliant military funeral tomorrow, in his village in Togobula, Nadroga.
02 Jun 2021 20:01
NZDF Help Return Fallen Peacekeeper, WO1 Vatoga Home
Casket of the late WO1 Vatoga being carried onto the Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft by pall bearers from the New Zealand Defence Force on Wednesday 02 June, 2021.

On 13 May, 2021, the Regimental Sergeant Major of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan, WO1 Amenisitai Vatoga tragically passed away from non-COVID-19 related, natural causes.

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Headquarters together with UNDOF Headquarters worked together to facilitate the return of WO1 Vatoga’s remains to Fiji. It was challenging, given the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated complications inherent with travel during these uncertain times.

The casket carrying the remains of WO1 Vatoga arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, on 31 May, 2021. The RFMF had requested the Royal New Zealand Defence Forces (RNZDF) for some assistance in receiving the late WO1 Vatoga given he was unaccompanied due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The RNZDF not only provided a formal military reception on his arrival, they offered to convey the late Warrant Officer
Vatoga home.

WO1 Vatoga’s final journey home was concluded this afternoon when a RNZDF C-130 Hercules aircraft landed in Nadi, accompanied by pall bearers from the RNZDF. A transfer to the RFMF was conducted at Nadi Aiport, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

Casket of the late WO1 Vatoga flanked by members of the Royal New Zeland Defence Force as he prepares to depart New Zealand on his final journey home.

Casket of the late WO1 Vatoga flanked by members of the Royal New Zeland Defence Force as he prepares to depart New Zealand on his final journey home.

Commander RFMF, Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto expressed his gratitude and deep appreciation to the RNZDF for their support.

“It is always difficult for me to receive a fallen soldier, who has passed away in a foreign land. As the Commander, my heart goes out to his family. In as much as we can facilitate it, given the global pandemic, we try to bring them home during their final journey to our shores, in a dignified manner, and with the respect that should be accorded a soldier who has given his life in the service of global peace.

“The big RFMF family is grateful to the RNZDF for their support, including the New Zealand High Commission in Suva, and the Office of the Royal New Zealand Defence Force Advisor. The cooperation between the RFMF and the RNZDF in bringing home to his family our comrade in a dignified and honorable manner is a welcomed respite from this pandemic.”

WO1 Vatoga will be accorded a COVID-19 compliant military funeral tomorrow, in his village in Togobula, Nadroga. He is survived by his wife, Losana Vatoga, of Vadravadra, Gau.

The RFMF appreciates the publics support and prayers for Fiji’s troops serving in the Middle East, and the families of all fallen peacekeepers. We ask that the public respect the privacy and dignity of the families of those affected by this tragedy.



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