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Tribute paid to late Sergeant Labalaba as Royal couple farewelled

October 25, 2018 5:01 am

President and Chancellor of the Order of Fiji Major General (Retired) Jioji Konrote today bestowed the President’s ‘War Cross’ to late Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba’s family.

The heroic soldier’s 53-year-old son, Isaia Dere Labalaba, received the bravery medal on behalf of his family during the farewell ceremony of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Nadi International airport.

The same award was also bestowed on Sergeant Labalaba’s brave comrade in the field that day – then Trooper 75-year-old Sekonaia Takavesi.

Prince Harry also unveiled the late Sergeant’s statue at Fiji’s Gateway to the world honoring his family and village of Vatutu, Nawaka in Nadi.

President Konrote says this is the first time this bravery medal has been awarded since Fiji established its College of Honor in 1995.

“Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba was born not far from here in the village of Vatutu, Nawaka, Nadi in 1942. It was a time when the fledgling Nadi Airport was an important staging post for the allies in the battle against the Japanese in World War Two. And it is extremely fitting that this statue of Sergeant Labalaba is positioned here.”

Labalaba was a British-Fijian sergeant in the SAS who was involved in the Battle of Mirbat on July 19th 1972.

Labalaba, aged 30, was shot dead while fighting the guerrilla forces.

Today about 1,250 Fijian troops are serving within the ranks of various regiments of the British Army.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were accorded a grand farewell by the Vanua of Nawaka before flying to Tonga in a chartered flight.