Fiji Sun : 2020-06-23

INFANTRY WEEK : 7 : 7

INFANTRY WEEK

FIJI SUN | TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2020 | FIJISUN.COM.FJ infantry week 7 THIS IS PART OF MAJOR-GENERAL (RET’D) JIOJI KONUSI KONROTE CF, OF (MIL), MC, SBST.J, MSD, OMRI, NOC. CURRICULUM VITAE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FIJI Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies, CANBERRA 1996. Graduate, Programme for Senior Executives in National Defence and Internatio­nal Security, John F Kennedy School of Government, HARVARD UNIVERSITY/ (United States of America), 2000. Full Name: Jioji Konusi KONROTE Date of Birth: 26 December, 1947 Family Members, sons: Emmanuel Jioji Konrote and Andrew Elaisa Konrote. They are both Commercial Pilots. (Emmanuel – First Officer with Emirates Airlines based in Dubai. Andrew – Captain, National Airline, Fiji Airways), who are both happily married to Kazuyou and Patrina respective­ly and are blessed with their own childen. Religion: Seventh-day Adventists Hobbies: Walking/Running, Reading, Gardening and Fishing. 1974 to 1975: As a Subaltern was seconded to the British Army Far East Land Forces and served as a Platoon Commander (Reconnaiss­ance Platoon) with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Hampshire Regiment and a Staff Officer in Headquarte­rs 51 Infantry Brigade in Hong Kong. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ SENIOR MILITARY APPOINTMEN­TS AWARDS/ DECORATION­S Jun – Dec 1978: Appointed Company Commander, (C Company) and posted to the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment, (1FIR) United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Jun 1981- Jun 1982 - Appointed Company Commander (A Company, 1FIR (UNIFIL). 1983 – 84: Appointed Senior Operationa­l Plans Officer, UNIFIL Headquarte­rs, Naqoura, Lebanon. Mar 1986 – Apr 87: Appointed Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL. Apr 1988- Apr 90: Appointed Chief of Staff Republic of Fiji Military Force, RFMF. Apr 1990 - Apr 91: Appointed Deputy Force Commander UNIFIL. Apr 1991- Sept 97: Appointed Deputy Commander / Chief of Staff, RFMF. Oct 1997- Oct 99: Appointed United Nations Assistant Secretary General, Force Commander, UNIFIL. ■ Fiji Independen­ce Medal -1970 UNIFIL Peace Medal - 1978 Military Cross (UK) for Gallantry on Active Service -1982 Meritoriou­s Service Decoration - 1987 Brother of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (UK) - 1995 Officer of the Order of Fiji (Military Division) - 1997 Order of Merit (Italy) November - 1997 Order of Cedar (Lebanon) October - 1999 Companion of the Order of Fiji, July - 2016. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION ■ ■ Draiba/ Nabua Primary Schools, Suva -1953 - 1956 Motusa Primary School, Rotuma - 1957 - 1958 Malha’a Secondary School, Rotuma - 1959 - 1963 Natabua High School, Lautoka - 1964 - 1966. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ JUNIOR OFFICER RECORD OF SERVICE ■ MILITARY EDUCATIONA­L RECORD AND QUALIFICAT­ION May 1966: Enlisted into the Royal, now Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF). 1970 to 1971: Seconded to the New Zealand Armed Forces and served on attachment with the 1st Ranger Squadron, NZ Special Air Service (NZSAS). 1972: Graduated as a Second Lieutenant into the Fiji Infantry Regiment from the Australian Army Officer Cadet School, PORTSEA. ■ New Zealand ArmyAdmini­stration & Tactical Schools, WAIOURU, 1970 – 1971. Graduate, Australian Army Officer Cadet School, PORTSEA, 1972. Gratuate, Australian Army Command & Staff College, QUEENSCLIF­F, 1982, psc. Graduate (Fellow), ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ . Photo: The 3rd Battalion landed with difficulty; mapping and surveillan­ce was imperfect. The forces landed south of their original mission, and the new terrain was difficult. After a long night, they met further resistance in the morning of June 23, repeatedly coming under fire. C, D, and E Companies moved south. D Company moved along the beach, but in an open stretch of land, faced heavy fire and the tough, swampy ground beyond the beach caused difficulty. A Company sought to support them but faced the same difficult terrain. E Company made some headway along the swamp, before it was again attacked by machine gun fire and mortars. The resulting firefight lasted three hours. It was here that Corporal Sakanaival­u’s gallantry was recorded. The 3rd Battalion’s initial task was cleaning out the remaining Japanese forces surroundin­g Torokina. They conducted multiday raids into jungle terrain, ambushing remaining Japanese forces. This task complete, they were directed to the south, to remove resistance near the Jaba River. Near the southern Torokina perimeter, the Japanese could use the Jaba River area to harass Allied troops. Instead of scout patrols, this would be an amphibious landing. The 3rd Battalion conducted two missions in the Mawaraka area – the first occurred over the period of five days and saw the A, B, C, D, and E Companies establish a beachhead via landing craft, and conduct sweeping patrols over eight kilometres, criss-crossing swamps, rivers, and beaches. They met little Japanese resistance. However, the mission resulted in the destructio­n of Japanese defensive installati­ons and a number of weapons and ammunition­s were blown up. The 3rd Battalion returned to Torokina, and the two Fijian forces spent several weeks training and recuperati­ng. This gallant N.C.O. then called to his men not to try to get to him as he was in a very exposed position, but they replied that they would never leave him to fall alive into the hands of the enemy. Realising that his men would not withdraw as long as they could see that he was still alive and knowing that they were themselves all in danger of being killed or captured as long as they remained where they were, Corporal Sukanaival­u, well aware of the consequenc­es, raised himself up in front of the Japanese machine gun and was riddled with bullets. This brave Fiji soldier, after rescuing two wounded men with the greatest heroism and being gravely wounded himself, deliberate­ly sacrificed his own life because he knew that it was the only way in which the remainder of his platoon could be induced to retire from a situation in which they must have been annihilate­d had they not withdrawn. the 1st Battalion in place for several months. Supplies were airdropped and to ensure the wounded and sick could be evacuated, a small airstrip was rapidly developed. The airstrip was named Kameli, in honour of Private Kameli Rokotuilom­a who was the first Fijian killed in action during the Ibu mission. Patrols, skirmishes, and intelligen­ce gathering continued. They regularly raided Japanese camps, their jungle warfare skills building a reputation amongst Allied forces. In February, intelligen­ce was listing gathering Japanese forces, surroundin­g the Ibu outpost. Attacks commenced on February 14, and the men of the 1st Battalion commenced an organised retreat, harassing the larger advancing forces. On February 15, concerned they were surrounded, the Fijians were commanded to withdraw. They disappeare­d into the jungle in small groupings. Following the natural features and tracking local pathways, 400 Fijians made it safely to the western coast four days later with only one wounded. The increased Japanese presence was the start of a counteratt­ack against the Allied beachhead on March 8, 1944. The 1st Battalion returned to patrols around the besieged Cape Torokina, and over the following months moved into the nearby foothills to relieve American forces. They establishe­d another forward base, and held the area for several weeks, conducting daily patrols. As Japanese forces conducted a last desperate assault in late March 1944, Fiji’s 3rd Battalion was called to Bougainvil­le. Australian forces drove the Japanese back from Mawaraka in October. Fiji’s First Docks Company, a labour force originally supporting US troops by unloading and reloading ships and maintainin­g camp infrastruc­ture in Empress Augusta Bay, remained in Bougainvil­le to assist the Australian­s. In early 1945, the Australian War Graves Commission sought the First Docks Company aid in recovering Corporal Sukanaival­u’s remains. Seven members of the First Docks Company accompanie­d the Australian­s on their successful mission. On the morning of February 15, 1945, Corporal Sukanaival­u was afforded a Field Officer’s funeral at the Camp Moeltke Australian War Cemetery. The service was conducted in Fijian by Chaplain Samuela Nabainival­u, with the guard of honour drawn from the First Docks Company. Australian buglers sounded the Last Post. Acknowledg­ing the camaraderi­e of the Allied forces and respect for Corporal Sukanaival­u, the funeral pallbearer­s were Fijian, New Zealanders, and American personnel. He is now buried at the Rabaul War Cemetery in Papua New Guinea. For their service, both 1st and 3rd Battalions received XIV US Army Commendati­ons for meritoriou­s service in combat and in support of combat operations. His Victoria Cross citation reads: On 23rd June 1944, at Mawaraka, Bougainvil­le, in the Solomon Islands, Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaival­u crawled forward to rescue some men who had been wounded when their platoon was ambushed and some of the leading elements had become casualties. After two wounded men had been successful­ly recovered this N.C.O., who was in command of the rear section, volunteere­d to go on farther alone to try and rescue another one, in spite of machine gun and mortar fire, but on the way back he himself was seriously wounded in the groin and thighs and fell to the ground, unable to move any farther. Several attempts were then made to rescue Corporal Sukanaival­u but without success owing to heavy fire being encountere­d on each occasion and further casualties caused. Acknowledg­ing the terrain precluded establishi­ng a beachhead, Fijian forces withdrew. They did not return to Mawaraka. It was the last active service of Fijian forces in World War II. In late 1944, as American forces pursued Japan northwards through the Pacific, Australia assumed command of Allied operations in Bougainvil­le. The Fiji Infantry Regiment was reverted to the United States Army XIV Corps’ reserve and their combat service ended. The 1st Battalion returned to Suva on 4th August, and 3rd Battalion on 6th September. The 3rd Battalion was safely home before their fallen comrade’s body was recovered. After much difficulty, (BitaPaka) Gallant display On June 21, the 3rd Battalion returned to Mawaraka, conducting a second amphibious landing with the objective of destroying the Japanese headquarte­rs at Mosigetta, nearly 10 kilometres inland, as well as supporting locals, who were resisting Japanese forces in minor attacks. Since the last action, Japan had reinforced its position, and two battalions and artillery now controlled the region. SOURCE: RFMF Archives If you have family photos or stories of military service you’d like to share, please email: rfmfhistor­y@gmail.com ■ Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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