K. A. Gamage

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K. A. Gamage
PWV
Native name K. A. ගමගේ
Died 20 April 2009(2009-04-20)
Ampalavanpokkanai, Sri Lanka
Allegiance  Sri Lanka
Service/branch Army
Years of service Unknown – 2009
Rank Major
Unit Special Forces
Awards Parama Weera Vibhushanaya

K. A. Gamage (Sinhala: K. A. ගමගේ, died 20 April 2009), was a Major in the Sri Lanka Army who posthumously received the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, Sri Lanka's highest military award for gallantry. At the time of his death, he was serving in the army's elite Special Forces Regiment. Before joining the Special Forces, Gamage had also served in the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment.[1]

Actions on April 2009[edit]

By mid-April 2009, the Sri Lankan Civil War was in its final stages, with the army's northern offensive confining remnants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (commonly known as LTTE or Tamil Tigers) to an approximately 20-square-kilometre (7.7 sq mi) area near the Nanthikadal lagoon, which had earlier been declared by the government as a no-fire-zone for civilians. This area was estimated to hold more than 100,000 civilians,[2][1] and was surrounded by a 3-kilometre (2 mi) long fortified earth bund built by the LTTE.[3]

The 1st Battalion of the Special Forces Regiment was tasked with destroying the bund and facilitating the civilians' escape into government-held territory, and the operation was launched on the night of 19 April 2009 from the Ampalavanpokkanai area. Gamage led one of the contingents for this operation, with orders to capture a section of the bund and cover the civilians' escape but not to advance forward of the bund itself. Gamage and his unit managed to cross the lagoon and reach the bund under the cover of darkness without being detected, and assaulted the Tamil Tiger bunkers along it. They successfully captured a section of the bund, starting a mass exodus of civilians into the government-held areas through it.[1][4]

However, they soon came under heavy fire from Tamil Tiger positions within the no-fire-zone. In order to protect the civilians and his unit from the fire, Gamage chose to ignore his orders and repeatedly led attacks against these positions into the no-fire-zone. He fought through the night and into the morning of 20 April, until he was killed by LTTE fire.[1][4] More than 25,000 civilians had reached the government-held areas on 20 April after the bund was captured.[5] The rest of the civilians were evacuated in the days that followed, allowing the military to launch their final assault against the Tamil Tigers and eliminate their leaders. The government officially declared victory and the end of the war a month later on 19 May 2009.[6]

Parama Weera Vibhushanaya[edit]

Gamage was nominated for the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, Sri Lanka's highest military award for gallantry, for his actions on 19 and 20 April 2009. Three years later on 16 May 2012, it was announced in The Sri Lanka Gazette by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa that Gamage will be posthumously awarded the medal along with 14 others.[7] The citation for his award states:

This officer pioneered to identify terrorist groups correctly who were attacking the security forces whilst hiding amongst innocent civilians and destroyed terrorist elements without causing any damage to civilians. Ultimately, he liberated thousands of civilians who remained detained by the LTTE as hostages.[8]

Gamage's Parama Weera Vibhushanaya was presented to his next-of-kin at the Victory-Day celebrations on 19 May 2012 by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President of Sri Lanka.[9] He was the fifth and last member of the Special Forces to receive the award.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Blacker, David (10 June 2012). "The Exceptional Courage Of Mere Mortals – Parama Weera Vibhushanaya". The Sunday Leader. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Ethirajan, Anbarasan (5 April 2009). "Army 'routs Tigers in north-east'". BBC News. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "World's largest hostage rescue mission becomes success; over 30,000 rescued". Ministry of Defence of Sri Lanka. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "President Awards PWV Gallantry Medals – Third National Victory Day Parade Salutes Invaluable Sacrifices of War Heroes". Sri Lanka Army. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Haviland, Charles (20 April 2009). "Thousands flee Sri Lanka combat". BBC News. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Weaver, Matthew; Chamberlain, Gethin (19 May 2009). "Sri Lanka declares end to war with Tamil Tigers". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  7. ^ The Government of Sri Lanka (16 May 2012). "The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Extraordinary) – No. 758/21" (PDF). Sri Lanka Government Press. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "PWV Citation – O/64743 Maj KA Gamage 1 SF (Posthumous)" (PDF). Ministry of Defence of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  9. ^ De Silva, Nishan (19 May 2012). "රණවිරුවන් 15කට පරම වීර විභූෂණ සම්මාන" [Parama Weera Vibhushanaya for 15 War Heroes]. Neth FM News (in Sinhala). Retrieved 16 March 2013.