THE Military Cross medal awarded to a Fijian soldier in the British Army was auctioned for a record ú28,000 ($F78,552) this week.
Specialist medal auctioneers Dix, Noonan and Webb (DNW) confirmed this to The Fiji Times yesterday.
DNW client services director Christopher Hill said Lance Corporal Jokini Sivoinauca's medal was awarded to the highest bidder ù a private collector who has a particular interest in modern gallantry awards. "There was much interest from other collectors hence the record price achieved," said Mr Hill.
Bidding for the medal commenced at ú13,000-ú15,000 ($F37,000-$F42,700)
Mr Hill said DNW had previously auctioned Military Cross medals with the highest bid being $F57,000.
Lance Cpl Sivoinauca was awarded the medal at Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II for his display of bravery while on a tour of duty in Iraq.
The citation for his medal states: "During a joint security operation lasting for three hours, Sivo and his team were ordered to occupy an isolated and very prominent single-storey checkpoint building, and engage gunmen.
"This made them an easy target for enemy marksmen. In this exposed position he spotted a rocket-propelled grenade team, with gunmen in support, engaging a Warrior vehicle. He immediately engaged the firers. Sivo led his colleagues with distinction and complete disregard for his own safety in spite of being wounded after he was shot in the chest, the round being stopped by his body armour. His conspicuous gallantry and leadership was beyond the call of duty."
Recalling the events of February 15, 2007 in various interviews with overseas media, Lance Cpl Sivoinauca said he and three others were trying to occupy an isolated checkpoint at a police station in Basra when he spotted insurgents with rocket propelled grenades.
Under intense fire, and injured himself, Lance Cpl Sivoinauca picked them off one at a time, allowing other soldiers to reach safety. To this day, he remembers exactly what his targets were wearing and where the bullet struck them.
"I wouldn't say it's because of me, it's because of everyone," he said.
The Military Cross is the third highest medal of gallantry in the British Army awarded to servicemen in the line of duty. The highest is the Victoria Cross of which Fiji's only recipient was the late Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu.