TOMASI Waqabaca regrets the most precious lives he left behind when his days of war ended.
One of the 50 surviving members of the 212 Union Jack club - the first batch of British Army soldiers from Fiji in 1961 - returned home 20 years later with a mixed feeling after serving in the frontline for world peace.
Yesterday, as Britain celebrated Armed Forces Day with a memorial service in Suva, Mr Waqabaca prayed for his two families that lived across the divide in Wales and England.
A proud serviceman pledging loyalty to the Queen, he said the pain of not seeing his children brought tears to his eyes whenever he thought of them.
"One of the criteria of going to England is to be single and after five years of service, we return to Fiji to pick our wives," Mr Waqabaca said. "Unfortunately, I fell in love with a Welsh woman from whom I have two children. Later on I met an English woman with whom I had three more children."
Mr Waqabaca was told to return home, found love again and married a woman from Taveuni.
They never had children.
Today, he lives alone in Nadi and longs for his children.
Mr Waqabaca said he did not wish for anything else but to see the faces of his children one more time.
He said he was young, daring and in love when he met the Welsh and English women.
"It was chemistry and my children kept me going despite the hardships I faced while I was in a foreign country," said Mr Waqabaca, who is from Ono-i-Lau.
He joined the army when he was 20 without the knowledge of his family.
He said after he left he missed his siblings and would cry in the middle of the night.
The youngest of 13 siblings, his father begged him to return to Fiji after he learned of his whereabouts.
"My father did not accept it at all. He wanted me to come back but I promised him that I would support him and my younger brothers and sisters," Mr Waqabaca said.
He said serving under Queen Elizabeth was life worth living for.
Mr Waqabaca said he was proud to be a good ambassador and the support of his comrades got him through alive when they were thousands of kilometres from home.
What appealed to the British Forces when it recruited soldiers in Fiji in 1961 is still true today.
The defence adviser of the British High Commission in New Zealand, Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Woodman, said: "It is the Fijian's strong heart and body, robust and compliance. They are the perfect soldiers for the British government."
Another ex-servicemen who shared his experience was Romanu Naceva of Lovoni, Levuka, in Ovalau.
An unemployed and school leaver, Mr Naceva grabbed the opportunity as a challenge to his faith.
"I never regret any moment because it has made me the person I am today," he said.
"I managed to mingle with professional soldiers in a foreign country and Fijians are so blessed because of their heart."
The 212 members were mainly deployed in engineering construction and naval surveillance.
They were also deployed to Southern Lebanon to be part of the United Nations Interim Force and they have since served in other peacekeeping operations in Sinai and Iraq.