Lahad Datu heroes honoured

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 12 – For more than two decades, Leftenan Kol Fazrul Azman Mustafa trained to fly the Hawk fighter jet until it became second nature to him.

His skills were put to the test on April 5, 2013, when he was among eight Royal Malaysian Air Force pilots tasked with bombing an area occupied by Sulu gunmen who had intruded into Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu.

The bombing was ahead of the Malaysian security forces’ offensive against the dozens of gunmen who had occupied the coastal village and killed two policemen in an ambush.

The bombing mission from Labuan was carried out by eight Hawk and three F18 aircraft.

Lt Kol Fazrul’s years of training helped him to carry out the mission successfully that day.

“We knew what we had to do and everything happened like clockwork,” said Lt Kol Fazrul, who was awarded the Pingat Kedaulatan Negara medal yesterday.

The close relations among the three branches of the military were also instrumental in the success of the mission, he added.

He was among 61 military personnel who received the medals from Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein at a Battle of Honour ceremony at Padang Merdeka here.

Military personnel from 24 units of the Armed Forces were honoured at the ceremony that was held for the first time in Sabah.

It involved the regimental colours of 24 army, navy and air force units being affixed with the “Daulat Feb 2013 Battle of Honour” insignia to remember their contributions in the operations against the intruders from southern Philippines.

Of these, 12 of the regimental colours represented units of the army, three of the Royal Malaysian Navy and nine from the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

Also present was Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman as well as state leaders and scores of the public who thronged the historical field.

The ceremony kicked off with a parade involving 230 officers and 1,880 personnel.

Apart from parades and band performances by the army, air force and navy personnel, the public were also treated to a pantomime by commandos on the skirmishes between the gunmen and security forces.

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