Labalaba’s homage

Isaia Dere (right) with his cousin Sikeli Ataninadi carries a wreath during his father’s, Late Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, Thanksgiving Service at Nawaka Village Church in Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND

EMOTIONS ran high at Nawaka Village in Nadi yesterday as scores of people, ranging from villagers to former British servicemen gathered to pay homage to the late Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba.

The Nawaka native lost his life while fighting alongside British troops during the Battle of Mirbat in Oman in 1972.

Yesterday, colleagues shared testimonies about Sgt Labalaba’s contributions towards the Crown and Britain as a whole.

Sgt Labalaba’s former schoolmate, Waisea Narema, said the sergeant was an inspiration to the youth of Nawaka.

“There was one instance where he missed the bus so he packed his school clothes and travelled five miles to reach school.”

It was a very emotional day for Sgt Labalaba’s son, Isaia Dere, as well.

The 52-year-old said it was a sad day but he was also proud of the many contributions his father had made.

This Thursday, his statue will be unveiled by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan.

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