Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Lance Bombardier Edward Lilo receives his award from Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel SL Humphrey of the British Army+ Enlarge this image
Lance Bombardier Edward Lilo receives his award from Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel SL Humphrey of the British Army
EVERY year our young men and women sign up to join the British Army as they look abroad for employment opportunities that are getting scarce locally.
For many joining, the British Army is a dream come true as you get the chance to travel the world and see places that you would only see at the movie theatres or on television.
On the same note it is also another way of these young men and women get a chance to help their families back home here in Fiji.
It's a job not for the faint hearted but at the same time these young men and women do get recognised for their efforts and contribution to the service.
Many tend to shy away or take the award or recognition brushing it off as just something anyone would do if placed in the same position or doing what they are paid for and expected to do.
One such example is Lautoka lad Edward Lilo, who received a certificate of commendation for his contribution to the Coalition Mission in the Multi National Forces while serving in Iraq last year.
Edward serves as a Lance Bombardier and is based at Tidworth in the United Kingdom.
For Edward at the time of his applying to the British Army it was the 'in thing' that he and most of his school mates from Natabua High School saw as the next best option to further education or finding a job locally.
"Back in high school I and two close friends would sit in the corner scratching our heads wondering what excuses to give our parents during parent's day when they saw our poor grades," remembers Edward.
"My dad had asked me what I wanted to do but I always knew what I wanted to do ever since I was in high school.
"It was either join up with the British Army or stay in Lautoka with my other friends scratching our heads around the place," he said.
Edward said he would remember his father would be worried about him because everytime he would see Edward he would see his other two close friends from school.
"They would call us the three musketeers and were worried that we would not get married or have children because we would be following each other around all the time,"
At a time when employment opportunities in the country are so few we are losing our young men and women to the British Army.
Edward, 25, grew up in Lautoka and is the second eldest of four children of Tina and Rollan Lilo of Waiyavi a neighbourhood known to house many part-European families.
Edward hails from a family that is more known for the hockey players it has produced for the country.
He was educated at Lautoka Primary School before completing his secondary education at Natabua High School.
After finishing secondary school, Edward applied to the British Army at the height of the 2000 crisis.
The kai Ra lad got the call up to join the army the following year but when he got there they found out he was too young to apply.
"So I had to stay with a Fijian family while I was there until I turned 20 to enlist in the army," he said.
"The award came as a surprise because I was just carrying out my duties.
"I got the award while serving out in Iraq.
"In the citation the army said the award was fully deserved and was in recognition of my sterling work.
"They said I made an outstanding contribution to one of the brigade's key strike capabilities.
"The citation said while working a 17-hour day with a punishing work schedule I had used my own initiative to provide care and support to younger soldiers, organised sporting and stimulating activities on the gun position.
"But everyone worked exceptionally hard across the deployment. It's a big award and will be in my records forever," he says proudly. He has served with the British Army for six years. Out of the 5500 soldiers serving in the British Army only six received the same commendation that was awarded to Edward.