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SAS hero cremated

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, April 15, 2013

THE ashes of a son of Fiji who helped bring democracy to Sierra Leone are expected to be brought to the country.

But no date has been confirmed on when Kauata Vamarasi Marafono's ashes will be brought to his village — Pepjei in Rotuma.

Fondly known as Fred, the 72-year-old former British Special Air Services soldier died peacefully in his sleep at his home in the UK on March 27.

He was cremated at a private (family) ceremony after a memorial service at the Hereford Cathedral in the UK on Saturday.

Being one of the first Fijians to join the elite SAS regiment, Fred's work in war-torn countries and other places won him the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Yesterday, his namesake told The Fiji Times that Fred's ashes would be brought to Fiji as per the arrangement with his offsprings.

Kauata Marafono said his uncle's ashes were expected to be brought to Fiji and taken to Pepjei.

"But no date has been confirmed yet on when the ashes will be brought to Fiji and I will have to check with my cousins in the United Kingdom," he said.

The Rotuman soldier with the 22 SAS regiment also co-authored a book, From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars with Dr Hamish Ross.

Dr Ross told BBC News that Fred "certainly was a lion-hearted warrior."

"In the SAS he had a reputation for volunteering for as many missions as he could and as often as possible," he said.

"He was in a league by himself and he introduced skills into the service that they adopted.

"It's remarkable the affection and respect all those who served with him had for him."

Dr Ross said Fred was still working in Central America at the age of 70.

"Although he was at home in Hereford when he died, in a sense he never really retired.

"Fred died at the age of 72. He spent, I reckon, virtually his entire adult life practicing his superb military skills," Dr Ross told BBC News.

The Rotuman soldier also worked with the late Talaiasi Labalaba, Sekonaia Takavesi, Jim Vakatali and Ilisoni Ligairi in the SAS.

Labalaba, who died in the battle of Mirbat in 1972, was best man at his wedding. His former colleague in the 22 SAS, Dr Ken Hedges, told this newspaper that Fred was the epitome of the Fijian motto and someone who had the moral compass like other Fijian soldiers in the elite squad.





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