FIJIAN SOLDIER WINS TOP HONOR FOR GALLANTRY

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Jone Toge rescued Afghan soldiers under enemy fire

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 8, 2009) – The British Army has awarded its prestigious and rare Conspicuous Gallantry Cross to a Fijian soldier for his bravery.

Jone Toge, 27, of Pacific Harbour who is a Lieutenant Corporal in the Royal Irish Regiment, was awarded the medal for saving his comrades in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, his father, Jone Toge said his son called him in the morning and told him about his bravery award.

"I am so proud of him. I have four sons and they are all in the British Army and I am a former Fiji military officer," said Mr Toge.

Mr. Toge it was the proudest moment in his life when his son joined the regiment in 2007.

"My son told me that the actual awards ceremony would be done by the Queen and she would be handing them their bravery medals," he said.

According to the Daily Mail, L/Cpl Jone Toge took command of his mentoring team after his commander took ill and rescued four Afghan Army soldiers under enemy fire.

This after their armoured vehicle was hit by rocket propelled grenade fire.

He and his team and Afghan soldiers were approaching a village when they came under fire and were ordered by SAS soldiers operating in the area to take and hold a piece of high ground overlooking the village. But as they advanced the Taliban struck and the Afghans were wounded.

"They were lying out there screaming. The vehicle had been hit by three or four RPGs and a hail of automatic fire. We were out in the open with no cover and I told the ANA to keep on fighting," he told the Daily Mail.

"At first I was stunned by the explosions, but I called the Afghan medic and we crawled out to the wounded guys. I got three of them back into some sort of cover and he got the other one.

"Then I called up another armoured vehicle and we managed to heave the wounded into that and when they were taken away we moved forward and took the high ground. From there we could see that the enemies were in a big trench just outside the village so we just poured fire on to them."

Donning the medal, said Mr Toge Snr, was a big achievement for his son, who flew home to Fiji to get married at Christmas.

He won the medal with two of his comrades – Sgt Alwyn Stevens and Cpl Robert McClurg.

This is the first time any battalion has scooped three of the top gongs on the same fighting tour.

According the Daily Mail, Lieutenant General Graeme Lamb, the commander of the UK Field Army, who presented the awards, described the recipients as "bigger than life and brave as a lion".

"They know the meaning of life and death, of standing by your friends, of standing up and being counted.

These young people are as tough as nails. They do get knocked on their backsides every so often but they do not lie there and whine that life is unfair. They get up, dust themselves off and get on with it. They are the British Armed Forces - they defend this realm and our way of life.

Look no further for your 21st-century role models. These are your real heroes, they live among you, they defend you and your right to freedom and the freedom of those less fortunate than you.

There are none better."

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

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