Fiji Sun

Wife remembers fateful knock on door

- NACANIELI TUILEVUKA Edited by Epineri Vula

For military wives a knock on the front door while their spouses are serving overseas on peacekeepi­ng missions is one thing they dread and fear the most. This is because the person is almost certainly the bearer of bad news, whether it may be a death or accident.

This was exactly what 55-year-old Amelia Rokoduna experience­d on April 19, 1999, at Tuatua Housing in Labasa.

The knock on the door coupled with the military officer standing on her doorway confirmed her worst fears. She remembers the day just like it was yesterday and never forgets the heartbreak of losing her husband, Private Josaia Rokoduna, after a short illness while on deployment with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

“I was living in our new house at Tuatua, the house he bought before he went to serve for six months in Lebanon,” Mrs Rokoduna said.

“I heard a knock in front of our door. It was in the afternoon and for us, Army wives, it’s the sound we dread the most.

“I knew who it was and what it was and what it meant before I opened the door. I was breastfeed­ing our youngest son when I heard the knock on the door.

“I sat on the edge of the bed, prayed first before I opened the door.

“The officer told me the news, I could not hold myself back, I sat in front of the door and cried my heart out,” she said.

Mrs Rokoduna said her husband was a dedicated solider who died doing what he loved, which was serving his country. Yesterday, Mrs Rokoduna could not hold back her tears as she laid a wreath at a plaque at Subrail Park in Labasa to commemorat­e those solders who lost their lives in the service of their country.

A moment of silence was observed yesterday morning during celebratio­ns to mark 40 years of Fiji’s peacekeepi­ng service under the United Nations.

The day began with the march from Y Corner through Labasa’s main street to Subrail Park. Members of the military, diplomatic corps, families and the public came together with flowers and poppies and wreaths were laid to pay tribute to loved ones lost in the line of duty.

Also present was the former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Minister for Youth and Sports Laisenia Tuitubou. Ratu Epeli commanded the first Battalion to serve in Lebanon.

Mrs Rokoduna said a lot of had changed since her husband’s untimely death. “Life has not really been the same ever since he left us,” she said.

“I thank the Lord for his provisions, guidance and for supplying my needs and also those of my children. We have four children. “He died on the month of April. Today is a special day as we remember our loved ones and it brings back a lot of wonderful fond memories. We will always remember him. “I am happy to be here and to remember my husband. I applied for leave today in order to be part of this service and every year I ensure that I be part of the celebratio­n.”

 ?? Photo: Nacanieli Tuilevuka ?? Apisai Rokoduna, Amelia Rokoduna, Kinijoji Sovakiwai (grandson) and Merewalesi Tokailagi at Subrail Park in Labasa on June 13, 2018.
Photo: Nacanieli Tuilevuka Apisai Rokoduna, Amelia Rokoduna, Kinijoji Sovakiwai (grandson) and Merewalesi Tokailagi at Subrail Park in Labasa on June 13, 2018.

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