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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, May 1) – A year after his left ear and hearing ability was affected in a bomb blast, Global Risk Strategy guard Isaia Nainoca Mate has not lost hope of a better future.

The 44-year-old Naqalotu villager of Kadavu, said yesterday his return to war-torn Iraq would depend on his English wife - British army nurse, Elizabeth Connell.

Mr Mate met Elizabeth, a reserve in the Royal Air Force, while on duty in war-torn Iraq last year.

They got married at Mr Mate's family home in Nabua last January.

Yesterday, Mr Mate said he could not wait to meet his newly married wife, who was expected to take time off work this month to come over to Fiji. "Although I experienced the traumatic incident of my life I have some fond and humourous memories of Iraq in my heart,"

Mr Mate said he still suffered flashbacks as a result of the horrifying experience.

He recalled how he dropped his tray of food in a Kuwait restaurant and dived under the table after a balloon burst.

"Sometimes I wake up suddenly in the middle of my sleep thinking I heard some loud noises. I can't do long walks now as the lower part of my left leg is still numb. The doctor told me that it would be permanent."

Mr Mate said he was fortunate to have survived the bomb blast that claimed the life of two other Fijian guards who were with him.

The three had been escorting over 80 oil tankers from the border of Turkey to Iraq where terrorists had planted the roadside bomb.

Mr Mate said he was only 10 metres away from the explosion and crawled shivering back to their vehicle to try and take cover that day.

"I am still receiving my compensation pay from my employers who will decide whether I am fit to return to work," Mr Mate said.

Meanwhile, the bodies of the two local security officers killed in helicopter crash in Iraq last week will arrive at Nadi at 7pm today.

Global Risk Strategies director Sakiusa Raivoce said the bodies - escorted by Skylinks officials - would arrive in Nadi on a flight from Sydney.

Timoci Lalaqila and Waisale Atalifo died after the helicopter they and nine others were in was gunned down by insurgents.

May 2, 2005

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