PETTY OFFICER BANDARA FELICITATED IN MARYLAND
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
05 March 2008