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Fiji Time: 1:53 PM on Tuesday 2 September

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War comrades reunite in old age

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

THREE ex-British Army Servicemen were reunited with their Fijian comrades in arms after a nearly half-century search led them to the village of Namata in Tailevu.

Tony Ridgway, Ken Turk and Brian O' Sullivan served with Fijian soldier Atu Laqeretabua in the 9th Independent Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers in Borneo, Kenya and Cyprus in the 1960s.

"I had actually come to Fiji 18 months ago to look for Atu because I hadn't seen him in 42 years," Mr Ridgway said.

"That search led me to Namata Village. My wife and I found Atu's house and Atu walked out on to the veranda, I pointed at him and said, 'Atu'.

"He saw me and said 'Tony'. We were so happy to see each other again and spent the next three days getting drunk and I didn't do any travelling at all in Fiji," he added with a laugh.

The three had served with Atu and two other Fijians Maika Qarikau and Iliesa Saqusaqu who have since passed away.

"We remember them as being great guys and, of course, they were all great sportsmen, representing the regiment in rugby," said Mr Turk. "Although they were Fijians, they mixed in just like one of the lads and fit straight in with the regiment."

Mr O' Sullivan said the three were excellent soldiers and always displayed professional conduct while on the job.

The men, who are in the country to celebrate Mr Laqeretabua's 70th birthday, said they were looking forward to turning back the years and party like they did when they were back in the army.


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