Multinational Peacekeepers gathered at the Fiji Contingent patio to commemorate comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World Wars and service of peace at South Camp on June 23rd, 2017.
The Chief Guest, Colonel Geoffrey Norman after the wreath laying ceremony, told members of the Second Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment that he was honored to be part of the commemoration with Force Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Tom Verner on behalf of the Force Commander. “It’s truly an honor to be part of the celebration today and the important opportunity to pay our respect on the event that happened in 1944 where we can draw our inspiration from,” he said.
The Chief of Staff of MFO encouraged those present at the commemoration to draw their inspiration from the personal sacrifice made by the late Cpl Sefanaia Sukanaivalu at Mawaraka, Bougainville in the Solomon Islands and those who had passed on in the service of peace under the MFO banner. “We can draw our inspiration from that event and find a reason to be proud of our service together and we know that we have been preceded by individuals like whom we are commemorating today,” he said.
The Fiji Infantry Day was basically introduced to commemorate the late Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Solomon Campaign which was a major Pacific War of World War II. His platoon was ambushed at Mawaraka on the 23rd of June 1944 where some leading elements had become casualties. Cpl Sukanaivalu then voluntarily crawled forward to rescue the wounded. After successfully rescuing two men, he crawled back to rescue another and in the process, he was injured in the groin and thighs and was unable to move further. He signaled his men to refrain from rescuing him but they disregarded his instruction and continued. All their failed attempts resulted in more casualties to the platoon since his position was exposed to the enemy arc of fire. To save his men from more casualties, being killed or falling alive to the hands of their enemy, the gallant NCO raised himself up in front of the Japanese machine gun and was riddled with bullets.
The late Cpl Sukanaivalu who was awarded the Victoria Cross and our gallant comrades who had passed on during their service for peace with the Multinational Force and Observers will be remembered for their ultimate sacrifice. ‘WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.’ A refreshing morning tea was served after the dawn service which was followed by the volleyball and tug of war competition.
The occasion was concluded with the traditional ceremony in the evening where the Chief of Staff, Col. Norman was also the Chief Guest. MFO peacekeepers who were present that evening celebrated the occasion with free drinks at the Fiji Bar.