Prince Harry and his newly wed wife Meghan recently traveled to Fiji for the much anticipated unveiling the memorial statue of a Fijian war hero, Talaiasi Labalaba. The statue stands to honor Labalaba, who served as a Fijian Sergeant for Great Britain and whose story is truly memorable.
On the morning of July 19, 1972, a battle raged between British forces and communist rebels. 30 year-old Labalaba and his nine SAS troopers fought desperately to hold off over 250 approaching enemies. As the battle intensified, the team was unable to escape, they were loosing the battle and they were trapped. Labalaba took action and rushed from his cover towards the gunfire. He traveled 800 meters through exposed ground and reached a 25-pound field gun. Although the weapon was intended to be operated by three men, he single-handedly wielded the gun and fought back the guerrilla attack. Despite receiving a bullet to the jaw, Labalaba continued to fire, even at point blank range to fight off the rebels. He continued fighting for six hours, decimating the enemy until help arrived.
The Sergeant’s heroic actions unquestionably caused a turning point in the battle and saved many British lives. Fellow SAS trooper Roger Cole explained that if the enemy had taken hold of the 25-pounder, they would have surely lost the fight. After sacrificing his life, Labalaba was taken and buried in England. His exemplary courage and heroic actions make this selfless man a recognized special forces hero.
Prince Harry revealed the statue, created by U.S. artist Matt Glenn, in a meaningful ceremony this last October. The magnificent memorial will stand as a reminder of Labalaba’s sacrifice and bravery in defending what he believed in. The carefully crafted bronze statue stands on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji.