“In War Nothing is Impossible, Provided You Use Audacity” – General George S Patton
THE linchpin and tower of strength behind the successful completion of the war against terrorism, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence who was formally an infantryman in his mother unit, the prestigious Gajaba Regiment (GR) recalled his cherished yesteryear memories when he paid a visit to the GR Headquarters at Saliyapura, Anuradhapura Friday (5) morning.
The principal objective behind the trip was two-fold; to pay his tribute to all GR soldiers for their commitment and dedication, and also to meet them personally and appreciate their contribution, as the initial phase of a long-term country-wide programme to separately meet all heroic soldiers who took part in the recent Wanni battles.
On his arrival a Guard Turn-out plus a special Guard of Honour saluted the visiting former soldier turned Secretary Defence who stood firm in the country’s quest for durable peace, free from terrorist violence.
A solemn moment, dignified with sentiments of valour and gratitude was next on his agenda. Mr. Rajapaksa placed floral bouquets at the foot of the marble War Hero monument at the entrance to the GR Headquarters and saluted to their memory. The next stop added further significance as he made a bee-line to offer his moving respect to the fallen military stalwart, Major General Wijaya Wimalarathne who was GR’s architect and served it as its first Commanding Officer.
Mr. Rajapaksa, impressed with new additions and improvement in the GR Headquarters premises took time off to move about freely for himself in the company of senior GR officers, including Wanni War Heroes, Major General Jagath Dias, General Officer Commanding in 57 Division, Major General Kamal Gunarathna General Officer Commanding in 53 Division, Brigadier C. Gallage General Officer Commanding in 55 Division, Brigadier Shavendra Silva, General Officer Commanding in 58 Division, GR Commandant and a few senior and junior officers.
Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa afterwards addressed all ranks and assured that everything possible would be done by his Ministry and the government for promotion of welfare measures of the soldiers who selflessly fought on behalf of the country and also for families of fallen War Heroes. Touched by his assurances, thundering applause greeted encouraging comments made by the visiting top-most administrator in the defence hierarchy. He also interacted with soldiers who had particularly come to listen to him away from their duty points in newly liberated Wanni areas. As the last leg of his itinerary, Secretary Defence sat for lunch with hundreds of GR troopers before he left the premises.
Major General Jagath Dias representing all Keterians, as they are popularly called, gifted a special memento to the visiting Secretary Defence as a token of memory after Mr. Rajapaksa left his signature on the VIP book at GR headquarters. Mrs. Ioma Rajapaksa was also associated with the visit.