Source: Daily Nation
Military men who died in the war against Al-Shabaab have been accorded State honours posthumously.
Those who paid the ultimate price when their helicopter crashed on duty during Operation Linda Nchi were conferred with Silver Star of Kenya (SS) awards for their acts of bravery.
Major Samuel Kavindu, who was the co-pilot of the military helicopter, the helicopter’s captain Major Kizito Nyamohanga, radio technician Corporal Noel Kipkosiom and armament technician Corporal Francis Languchia were honoured.
Similarly, Navy officers who died when their boat capsized in the Indian Ocean as they supported frontline troops were also recognised. NGR Philip Ochieng, GNR Kevin Wamai, and Brigadier Edward Mugo were also awarded SS.
However, the most prestigious Award, Uhodari Medal, has not been given in over 20 years to recognise most outstanding acts of sacrifice among the armed forces. The last recipient was General Mohamud Haji Mohamed in 1987.
President Daniel Moi awarded General Mohamed the Uhodari Medal (UM) for the role he played in saving his government during the abortive 1982 coup plot.
So far, only 13 Kenyans are in the list of Kenya’s most exclusive presidential award club. And a number of the winners are not alive today.
As the country’s highest gallantry award, it’s given to the most conscious bravery or for some daring and pre-eminent act of valour, self-sacrifice, or for extreme devotion to duty involving imminent danger of death to the performer.
The silver cross UM was first given on June 1, 1967, to Major James Lellesian Lengees, Corporal Johannes Etuwan Kiriwo, Constable Kindu Kimunyi (posthumously), Sergeant Marioko Lemia and Sergeant Ekeno Lochul.
In 1968, two members of the Kenya Army and two policemen (posthumously) were awarded the Uhodari Medal. President Kenyatta bestowed the same award on Pte Jacob Mtua (Kenya Army), Lieutenant Corporal Kipkemoi Chumo (Kenya Army) and Pte Timothy Theuri (Kenya Army).
Evidently, the stories of these men and their acts were of utmost courage and bravery.
Corporal Kiriwo was a platoon sergeant for the 1st battalion of the Kenya Rifles (now Kenya Army). On October 4, 1965 his platoon patrolling in two military lorries in Eastern Province came under fire from a well-armed gang of 200 shifta. Four soldiers died and two were badly wounded.
Seeing two shifta aiming rifles at them, Corporal Kiriwo killed them using a grenade, carried wounded men into one of the lorries in the face of close shifta attacks, called for ammunition and distributed it, took full command and got the platoon mortar into action.
His actions forced the enemy to withdraw, leaving eight dead, four rifles, and a quantity of ammunition on the field.
By NYAMBEGA GISESA