I heard on the 0630 news that a soldier, killed in 1972, has now been afforded the great honour of having his statue placed in his old Regimental HQ.
Talaiasi Labalaba was a mighty Fijian warrior serving this country in the Special Air Service Regiment. He was killed in action at what is now known as the Battle of Mirbat and received a posthumous Mention in Dispatches (MID) which, if you read the full story of his action, is unbelievable and to this day rankles those who know the story. Below is a quote from one of his comrades who fought with him that day and who, eight years later, would take part in the storming of the Iranian Embassy in London to end the six day seige:
He was a bear of a man. Just to see him walk down the streetwas enough for most people, but when he was fully tooled-uphe was the original Rambo. He would never surrender. He just didn't know the word `surrender`. He would give his life for his comrades. Same with Sek (Takavesi). They wanted to give Laba the VC for his actions at Mirbat but because the war was a secret in 1972 they said a VC awarded to a Fijian would be headlines in every newspaper in the UK. So to keep the war a secret, all they gave him was MID. You can get that for walking up the Falls Road. The guy deserved a VC for what he did.
Fijians continue to serve in the British Army.