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Archive for March 16th, 2008

Fallen hero at Thoppigala:

Prelude:

Corporal Nuwan Tharanga, Captain Thushara Wettasinghe and the 2nd Commando regiment, after their operations in Muhamale relocated immediately to Vakarai at the beginning of year 2007, for the operations in the East. One after the other the Sri Lankan forces were making their way to capture Thoppigala.

The Alpha group of 2nd Commando Regiment, Sri Lanka Army, including Corporal Tharanga and Captain Wettasinghe, along with 6th Gemunu Regiment captured the Unnachchi tank, Which was a face-to-face battle, lasting well over three hours. It was commonly believed that Vavunathivu and Kohombagasthalawa could not be liberated.

But the Alpha group, with the help of 6th Gemunu, was successful at linking Vavunathivu and Kohombagasthalawa to the Vavunathivu STF Camp, through a road traversable by vehicle. Nearly 33 km of the A5 route was captured in April 2007. Moreover, the Alpha group blocked and captured Thoppigala road, on April 11, with the aid of 6th, 7th and 8th Gemunu Regiments.

Corporal Tharanga joined the Sri Lanka Army as a recruit soldier, then got his training from Diyatalawa. During the operations in Muhamale, Kohombagasthalawa, capture of Unnachchi tank, A5 route as well as Thoppigala road, Corporal Tharanga depicted outstanding character and bravery. This week’s memento of appreciation is dedicated to Corporal Nuwan Tharanga who laid down his life for the country.

Date: Arpil 24, 2007

Time: 0400 hours

Location:FDL (Forward Defence Line), Mannar

After the success in Thoppigala, Captain Thushara, Corporal Tharanga and his team was standing by in Mannar, when an LTTE base was identified, in front of Giant Tank, close to the FDL in Galkanda. Captain Thushara, Corporal Tharanga and his team was chosen to embark on a 20-day reconnaissance mission in the said area.

04:00 hours: The team left the camp to recce the area. “It was an expanse of 1500 metres, but recceying it was a demanding task because it was an open area, with no cover.” says Captain Thushara. “We crawled over the bund and crossed over to LTTE territory.”

05:30 hours: 400 metres from the LTTE camp, the recce team detected one main bunker on the bund. “I asked Tharanga to move his command closer.” They could not cross over from the drain, because they didn’t know how deep the water was. And anti-personal mines and booby traps were placed on the side of the bund. The team disarmed some, but there were too many mines and traps.

The group ultimately decided to cross over from the drain. Water level was a little above the waist. After wading through the water approximately 15 metres, the team detected the first few terrorists.

After crossing over the drain, the team realized that they were detected and immediately opened fire. Corporal Tharanga attacked the bunker and captured it.” Says Captain Thushara. “I lost four men and the LTTE lost a few.”

07:30 hours: The group was attacked again, this time apparently from an underground bunker complex located on the opposite direction, towards the tank. Corporal Tharanga and Captain Thushara tactically split up and attacked from both sides, while they were attacked with grenades by LTTE cadres within the bunkers.

10:00 hours: The Alpha group had to withdraw ten to fifteen metres to reorganize. Then Corporal Tharanga with a few others reentered the complex, attacked and clearing the bunkers, while Captain Thushara secured the outer area.

10:30 hours: Just as Corporal Tharanga was coming out to rendezvous with the rest of the Alpha team, he was shot on the upper part of his body. “I assessed that he was in critical condition and made arrangements to transfer him.” It took the military many years to get to this position and Corporal Tharanga, even while being in much agony due to his wound, pleaded with Captain Thushara not to put the mission in jeopardy under any circumstance.

The LTTE commenced a fresh assault with a 120/81 Mortar attempting to do as much damage as possible. For Corporal Tharanga duly came first. Corporal Tharanga’s wife was seven months pregnant with their first baby.

Immediately after the attack Corporal Nuwan Tharanga was taken to the Anuradhapura general hospital but unfortunately, died before he could get there. His intrepidness was remarkable, for him country came before him at all times, and until his last breath served the Commando regiment.

Captain Thushara Wettasinghe was also injured in the same battle by a anti-personal mine. Over all the mission was a success as Corporal Tharanga hoped it would be.

According to the KIA (Killed In Action) Monitoring, 24 LTTE cadres have been reported dead and many casualties.

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