Thursday, June 4, 2009

Warrant Officer Class 2 H.B. Pasan Gunasekera PWV, WWV, RSP, GR (November 9, 1964 - November 29, 1995) was a non commissioned officer in the Sri Lanka Army who was posthumously promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 from Staff Sergeant, and awarded the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya (PWV) medal, the Sri Lanka's highest military decoration for the honor, for his heroic deeds in Jaffna, Sri Lanka during Operation Riviresa.

Early life
Pasan Gunasekera was born at Millewa, and was the youngest son of his family. After his father died in 1981, Gunasekera had worked for a while at local Ayurveda medicine factory and he met a retired Army officer working there and became very keen to join the Sri Lanka Army.

Military service
He joined the Army in 1985 and served mostly in the North. He had fought in several major operations such as Vadamarachchi, Haye Para, Balavegaya 1 and 2 and Wanni Wickremaya 1,2,3. Even he had been shot in the stomach at Vavuniya earlier and at that stage, his Commanding Officer had tried to transfer him to Colombo but Gunasekera requested to get back to Jaffna.
In 1995, while he was on leave, he was urgently recalled to Jaffna. He had been ready to go on a course abroad but that too was cancelled because he was needed in Jaffna for the fore coming Operation Riviresa, which was his fate resolved.

November 29, 1995 the Sri Lankan forces was on the edge of capturing Jaffna Town in Operation Riviresa. At this stage the LTTE were fighting a fierce battle in the town and they were supported by the Sea Tigers who were using boats to bring in supplies and to evacuate casualties. The terrorists did this under the cover of darkness from 1800 hrs to 0500 hrs. On some days about 200-300 boats were involved in this operation. It facilitated the LTTE in resisting the main operational force which was attempting to capture Jaffna Town.
The movement of these boats were covered by a group of terrorists who were stationed in Chiruthivu Island which was between Jaffna Town and Mandathivu Island where 10th Gajaba Regiment troops were located. It was therefore necessary to evict the terrorists from Chiruthivu if the army were to stop this boat movement. Gunasekara volunteered to take part in this mission, and with the help of improvised rafts he entered the Chiruthivu Island at about 0200 hrs with 16 men and occupied the Island after evicting the terrorists. Having done this he established a fire base to engage the terrorist boats moving in the Lagoon. By about 2100 hrs on November 30, 1995 he was able to immobilize a large number of terrorist boats moving in the lagoon.
Gunasekara died due to terrorist gunfire during this operation. He volunteered for the task with a small group of men unmindful of the danger to his life against the greater terrorist force who were moving in boats in strength armed to the teeth. This facilitated the isolation of terrorist fighting in the Jaffna Town and eventually helped the army to capture it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Corporal Gamini Kularatne PWV, SLSR (S/34553)

Corporal Gamini Kularatne PWV, SLSR (S/34553) Called the Hasalaka Hero, (September 4, 1966 - July 14, 1991) was a Sri Lankan soldier. He was the second recipient of the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, the highest award for gallantry award in the history of Sri Lanka Army.

Gamini Kularatne was the second son of a family of four brothers and a sister. He obtained his primary education at Ranasinghe Premadasa Madhya Maha Vidyalaya at Hasalaka (farming hamlet in the salubrious Kandy district of Sri Lanka) and later joined the Sri Lankan Army on August 27, 1987 with the blessings of the father S.G Babanis and mother S.G Juliet.

[edit] Supreme Sacrifice

The bulldozer that he lobbed two grenade and destroyed on his fate night.
On the night of July 10, 1991 over 5000 LTTE carders surrounded the 600 strong army garrison located at Elephant Pass ,in Sri Lanka. Elephant Pass was known as the gateway to the northern Jaffna Peninsula. Enlisted to the Sri Lankan Army Sinha Regiment Sixth Battalion as a Rifleman, Lance Corporal Gamini Kularatne, along with the rest of his regiment, was tasked with watching for possible LTTE infiltrators.
As dusk fell the LTTE cadres launched several human wave attacks. Flanked by hundreds of their armed cadres, they surrounded the Army's fortifications. But the sight of a hitherto unknown bulldozer covered with armour plates looking like a huge tank sent shock waves among soldiers at all sentry points as the huge bulldozer tank was a mystery to all on guard.
Equipped with a machine gun atop it and containing a haul of arms and ammunitions inside it rumbled towards the southern entrance of the camp and Lance Corporal Kularatne in his pensive mood thought this new rolling weapon would definitely be able to swarm the garrison within seconds taking a heavy toll of his fellowmen. Above all the fall of Elephant Pass to the enemy would be catastrophic and counterproductive at national level, and there was hardly any time to waste, Kularatne pondered.
Although the LTTE began pounding the Army camp with heavy mortars and weapons to the cries of injured and dying soldiers amidst deafening explosions, all eyes were still centered on the enemy's approaching mysterious bulldozer laden with sophisticated weapons.
Suddenly Lance Corporal Kularatne, holding two grenades in his hands, dashed out towards the oncommig bulldozer tank, clambered up the tank's ladder and tossed the two grenades inside it, disregarding the numerous injuries he himself had suffered by then from the bullets of LTTE. Within seconds, fiery bursts of fire accompanied by a series of explosions occurred. Lance Corporal Gamini Kularatne was flung to the ground lay motionless.
Thus the siege of Elephant Pass Army Camp was broken and one of the most ferocious battles in Sri Lanka's modern history ended. The camp was finally saved from the LTTE.
Lance Corporal Kularatne's supreme sacrifice, dedicated for the sake of Sri Lanka's territorial integrity and sovereignty was well received with admiration and honor by all segments of masses across the island.
In recognition of his act of gallantry Lance Corporal Gamini Kularatne was promoted to the rank of Corporal posthumously and honored with the award of "Parama Weera Vibhushanaya", the highest gallantry award in Sri Lanka for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka Army.
Later he came to be known as the "Hasalaka Weeraya"(Hasalaka Hero). Corporal Gamini Kularatne's valiant action marks a milestone in the annals of military gallantry. No doubt, the nation salutes this valiant soldier as long as they could breathe. He also leaves an indelible memory of patriotism and valor not only in the minds of his own countrymen but also among millions of Sri Lankans whose today is sacrificed for the sake of tomorrow's betterment.

Captain Saliya Upul Aladeniya PWV, WWV, SLRS

Captain Saliya Upul Aladeniya PWV, WWV, SLRS (1964 - June 11, 1990) was the first recipient of the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, highest war time award for valour of the Sri Lanka Military. He was a Sri Lankan army officer who refused to abandon the injured of his platoon and, fought until the Kokavil army camp was overrun by LTTE.
Educated at Trinity College Kandy, he joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1989. After basic training he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in to the Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment.
Lieutenant (at that time) Aladeniya was in command of an army outpost with a handful of men at Kokuvla (Kokavil) that was established for guarding the television relay station. The camp was surrounded for several days by LTTE cadres who outnumbered them five to one. The food and water were running out in the camp and so was the ammunition. In spite of many requests, reinforcements sent from Lt. Aladeniya's regimental headquarters in Nuwara Eliya never reached Kokavil, having been diverted elsewhere. Orders to withdraw from the camp came at the eleventh hour but then it was too late and Aladeniya had wounded men whom he did not want to leave behind. Pledging that he would rather die alongside them than leave them, Lt. Aladeniya fought on till an adjacent fuel dump exploded, killing the majority of the defenders in the camp.
Lt. Aladeniya lost his life and was posthumously promoted to rank of Captain and honoured with a Parama Weera Vibhushanaya medal on June 21, 1994.

Parama Weera Vibhushanaya (Supreme Heroism Decoration)

Parama Weera Vibhushanaya (Supreme Heroism Decoration), is the highest Sri Lankan military decoration equivalent to the British Victoria Cross (which was the highest decoration in Ceylon Army till 1972), or the United States Medal of Honor, that's awarded as a reward for all ranks of the tri services (Regular/Volunteer) individual acts of gallantry and conspicuous bravery of the most exceptional order whilst on service.

How the medal is awarded
Field Commanders reports acts of individual and conspicuous acts of bravery to Service Commanders who forward reports and recommendations to a Tri-Services Board. Their report is sent to the President who makes the awards. Recipient of the decoration will be entitled to use the post-nominal letters "PWV" after his/her name