SIBU: The death of Iban war hero Datuk Awang Raweng (pic) is a great loss to the country, says the Sarawak Malaysian Armed Forces Veteran Association (SMAFVA) and Sarawak Ex-Royal Navy Association.
The late Awang was a former member of the elite Iban trackers during the British colonial era.
A former chairman of SMAFVA, Thomas Ling said the late Awang was a hero who had set a good example for the present generation of servicemen in the country.
"Sarawak veterans are proud of his excellent contribution to the nation during his service and he was honoured by the National Defence University of Malaysia. His passing is certainly a big loss to the nation," he said.
Ling said he met Awang for the first time in 1995 and added that they would often cross paths, especially during functions organised by the ex-servicemen association.
"He was a kind person and each time we met, he always liked to share his military service experience with us," said Ling.
Meanwhile, former Sarawak Ex-Royal Navy Association chairman Mohd Safree Madsaf also paid tribute to the late Awang.
"His demise is a big loss to the Armed Forces and Armed Forces veterans. He was a brave fighter. I would like to thank SMAFVA for taking care of the funeral service ala military style," said Safree.
Awang, 104, passed away at about 2.15pm on Friday (Sept 18) at his son’s residence in Taman Padri, Sri Aman and will be accorded a state funeral.
His remains will be brought to St Thomas Church, Kuching on Monday (Sept 21) before being laid to rest at the Heroes Memorial, Taman Budaya, Kuching.
He was famously known as an Iban war hero who single-handedly fought off communists in the jungles of Johor to defend an injured comrade.
Awang was the only Sarawakian who was awarded the George Cross (GC), named after King George VI, for his gallantry and dedicated service by the Queen of England in November 1951.
The award was in recognition of his fight against 50 communists in the Kluang forest in Johor, where he defended an injured British soldier alone.
He continued to fight despite having suffered serious injuries himself.
He was also given the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II and members of the royal family at Buckingham Palace, in addition to receiving a special allowance of £100 every month from the British government.
He was also the recipient of the Panglima Setia Bintang Sarawak award, which carries the title “Datuk” by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud in 2018.
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