SQ LEADER PRASNGA BALASUIRIYA  (RWP)26th Year of Remembrance,,, killed  on 18th Nov 1995 when LTTE Tamil terrorists fired at the cargo plane.

This month when we remember fallen war veterans all over the world, I’ve chosen to speak about late Squadron Leader Prasanga Balasuriya, among many others who sacrificed their lives in the defence of Sri Lanka’s national security and the territorial integrity for our past, our present, and our future.

I wish to outline here that our teams were ready for the future of our fight against terrorism – the threats we face, and the way in which we met them. However, on the morning of 18th November 1995, my vivid memory recollects, on that Saturday morning, I saw this Chinese built cargo plane – Yankee 8, taking off into somewhat gloomy skies, with this extraordinary young crew on board conveying military cargo for the fighting troops and medicine for the masses in the Northern Peninsula. This crew comprised some who not only led that fight, but who could have led our country for decades to come. Bala was a few months into his marriage to a pretty young lady, where I had the privilege to be chosen as his bestman in September 1994. Bala was dreaming to become the proud father to their unborn first child. Still, he opted to volunteer to be part of these routine flights, instead of spending some quality time with his family and friends. He set aside these family obligations to honour and support all the men who have given their time in service to this country we love. They are heroes, each and every one. They gave Sri Lanka, the most precious thing they had – “the last full measure of devotion.” And because they did, we are who we are today – a free nation, dreaming to be the greatest in the world.

The purpose of Memorial Day. To remember with gratitude the countless men and women, who gave their lives so we could now live-in peace and freedom. And we must do more than remember them. An enemy missile hit this routine flight that Bala was part of the crew, over the Northern seas, while approaching the landing at Air Base Palaly. My dear friend Bala and his smiling face were not lucky enough to recover from that crash landing of the Yankee 8 into the seas of the Indian Ocean. His son was only an infant of six weeks old when Bala left this world. On that same fateful and unforgettable day, I had to represent his family to identify his silent remains when it was brought to Ratmalana air base – this memory still keeps vibrating in my mind.

“Thank you for putting yourself in the way of danger to save others, to save our motherland. This is what it means to be a hero. This is what it means to build a beautiful legacy, Thank you for everything”

My Dear Prasanga, May You Attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana!

Wing Commander SANJAYA FERNANDO (Retd),
19th Intake Sri Lanka Air Force.

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