JOHOR BARU: “We huddled, we hugged and we kissed each other. None of us knew who would make it but at that moment we knew who would not,” RMAF commando Sjn Saad Che Omar said of his ordeal at sea with two colleagues who died after their boat capsized on Sunday.
“It was the saddest moment of my life,” he whispered from his bed at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital’s intensive care unit yesterday.
The 34-year-old airman from Jitra, Kedah, said it was on Monday night when he, being the strongest among the three after more than 36 hours in the water, kept tugging at the rope which had been tied to himself, Kpl Hasrul Abdul Rahman and Kpl Ayub Sidek, to keep them from drifting apart.
“We hugged and kissed each other. We tried to fire up our spirits and console each other.
“Kpl Hasrul asked me to teach him to mengucap dua kalimah shahadah (make the declaration of the faith).
“He knew that he would not make it. He knew that he was going to die,” Sjn Saad said when Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman visited him yesterday.
He said that for a moment he was lost for words but pulled himself together and tried to stay calm.
He then pulled Kpl Hasrul closer to him and led him in uttering the holy verses. Kpl Hasrul died minutes later.
Sjn Saad said Kpl Ayub Sidek told him that something must be done about their situation.
“He said he was also too weak to carry on and asked me to untie myself and to let him go with Kpl Hasrul.
“He said he and Kpl Hasrul would only slow me down.
“My colleague was sacrificing his life to give me a better chance to survive,” he said.
Sjn Saad said he then untied the rope and that was the last time he saw Kpl Ayub alive.
“I owe my life to them,” he said.
The bodies of Kpl Hasrul and Kpl Ayub Sidek, both 27, were found still tied to each other, at 8.55am on Tuesday.
Sjn Saad was rescued by a search team about nine hours later.
Ghani spent more than 10 minutes talking and comforting Sjn Saad.
He also extended his condolences to the family members of the two dead commandos.
“They died while on duty and everyone should be proud of them,” he said.
Hospital director Dr V. Sadandan said Sjn Saad had only suffered external injuries and some bruises on his neck and chin caused by constant rubbing with his life jacket.
“Except for that, he is in a stable condition and should be discharged from the ward in two days,” he said.
His parents, wife Razifah Baharudin, 33, and two daughters Norazrin, eight, and Norazwa, four, who came from Jitra, were at the hospital.
Sjn Saad was among six commandos who had left the Tanjung Leman jetty to look for a training site near Pulau Sibu when their boat capsized at 10.30am on Sunday.
Those who managed to swim to shore the same day were Mej Aundrey Smith, 43, Kapt Damian Sebastian, 30, and Sjn Radzi Abdul Majid, 35.
Earlier police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Mukhtar Ismail, after visiting Sjn Saad at the hospital, spoke of the problems the commandos faced during their ordeal.
“Although they could see rescue boats looking for them, the strong currents and big waves prevented them from being detected.
“They had no other equipment such as flashers to attract our attention,” he said.
Did you find this article insightful?