Sri Lankans in the Greater Washington area gather at IBC to honor a valiant serviceman

Petty officer SWSI Bandara of the Sri Lanka Navy is overwhelmed by his transition overnight, from a regular sailor to a hero.

It had been as a regular sailor that Bandara, while on leave from Navy, visited the Sunday fair in Anuradhapura with his wife and son, on the fateful day of February 10, 2008. Having made his way to a stall to buy his son a school bag, Bandara observed a parcel lying unattended, and inquired from the vendor whose it was. When the vendor appeared ignorant of it, Bandara’s instincts were immediately alerted. He cautiously examined the parcel, and realized it was an improvised explosive device (IED), designed to kill and maim innocent civilians. He rapidly dispersed the milling crowds and diffused the bomb, with meticulous attention to detail and patient adherence to procedure. The improvised bomb was made with 1.5 kilograms of lethal C 4 explosives and several hundreds of steel balls, packed in to a plastic can and wrapped in a shopping bag. Bandara saved massive carnage and mayhem just in the nick of time. Five minutes later might have been too late.

Visiting the U.S. as part of the renowned cultural troupe of the Sri Lanka defense forces, Bandara has been profusely commended for his bravery and vigilance.

Speaking at a special ceremony in his honor at the International Buddhist Center (IBC) in Wheaton, Maryland, on March 2, 2008, Bandara was emotionally moved, and said that he had no intention of aspiring to heroism, that he was only doing his duty. Not even in his dreams had he ever anticipated this turn of events.

Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke, who spoke at the felicitation ceremony, said that the people living in the U.S. are informed of the conflict situation in Sri Lanka by the media. However, it is the security forces personnel like Petty Officer Bandara, who have to face the brutality of terrorism on a daily basis. The Ambassador expressed his appreciation of valiant officers like Petty Officer Bandara who placed themselves in harm’s way for a better tomorrow for the people of Sri Lanka.

Ven. Katugastota Uparatana Nayake Thera, Chief Adikarana Sangha Nayaka of the United States of America and Head of IBC, blessed Bandara by chanting seth pirith, while patriotic fervor rose to a pitch among the gathering. The Chief Incumbent of the Dambulla Raja Maha Vihara, Ven. AmbulAmbe Sri Khemananda Thera also spoke on the occasion.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

05 March 2008

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