Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cries haunt our heroes

Serafina Silaitoga - Thursday, November 12, 2009

IN the quiet of their home surroundings, our war heroes can still hear the cries for help of their fallen comrades.

They are constantly reminded of the gunshots from the 1940s and their sacrifice that changed the world and its future generations.

Ex-servicemen who fought battles in the Solomon Islands and Malaya told their stories with pride as Commonwealth countries celebrated Remembrance Day yesterday and paid tribute to those who died fighting to protect freedom.

Like 92-year-old Timoci Naitini, one of the few Solomon Islands war veterans alive today, holding two dying friends in his arms in 1943 is a memory he lives with each day.

Mr Naitini, who is from Drekeniwai, Cakaudrove, said even today, inside his quiet room, there were times he would hear sounds of repeated gunshots and the voices of his friends.

Tears streaming down his cheeks, Mr Naitini said he could still remember the patch of grass on a hill at their Bougainville base where he held two dying friends in an effort to save them from the Japanese.

Mr Naitini said he didn't want to leave his friends to the enemy and dragged them back with him as they retreated to fight another day.

Another war veteran, Cakaudrove chief, Tui Tunuloa Ratu Senio Vuicakau, said the sounds of gunfire and bomb blasts were part of his elderly life.

More than 100 ex-servicemen packed the celebration in Labasa yesterday after a march through town led by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces band.

* Click this link for more Remembrance Day pictures

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