15 Sep 2006

Remains of Fiji's greatest hero to be returned home

9:50 am on 15 September 2006

The remains of Fiji's greatest war hero, Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu, are to be brought home and buried at a war memorial to be built in front of the parliament building in Suva.

Corporal Sukanaivalu is Fiji's only holder of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry that can be given in the British and Commonwealth military forces.

He was given the award for his exceptional bravery during the war against Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands in 1944.

Corporal Sukanaivalu was injured rescuing his comrades and when he realized that his fellow soldiers would risk their lives to get him back, he deliberately raised his head in the line of Japanese machine gun fire and was killed.

Until now his remains have been buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Bitapaka near Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.

Fiji's home affairs minister. Josefa Vosanibola, says the PNG government has not only endorsed the transfer of his remains to Suva but will give 600-thousand US dollars for the construction of the tomb.