STRENGTH OF DETERMINATION DRIVES DISABLED
WARRANT OFFICER UPALI
Sri Lanka Embassy is accepting contributions
from Sri Lankan expatriates who wish to buy a vehicle for disabled
The inspiration of revived memories can be a
powerful driving force. It is indeed so for Warrant Officer Class
II, Upali H.A., once the Personal Security Officer to Major General
Vijaya Wimalaratne, when he was Task Force I Commander responsible
for the direction of military operations in Jaffna and Killinochchi
districts before the landmine explosion at Araly Point in Jaffna
on August 8, 1992.
During his recent tour of the US accompanying
the renowned Sri Lanka Defense Forces Cultural Troupe, Warrant
Officer Upali was once more compelled to relive the myriad of
memories of a tragedy, the heart-breaking effects of which are
a part of his daily life.
Speaking to an emotional audience following a
concert in Washington DC, Warrant Officer Upali, seated in a wheel
chair, surveyed his broken physical self with relative detachment.
The blast on August 8, 1992, which killed Lieutenant General Denzil
Kobbekaduwa, Major General Vijaya Wimalaratne, Rear Admiral Mohan
Jayamaha, and 7 other officers who were at Araly Point, planning
to free the civilians of Jaffna who were under the tyrannical
rule of the LTTE, had left a sole survivor, Warrant Officer Upali,
who nevertheless paid a heavy price, as he lost both legs above
the knee. Despite the tragedy that relegated him to the “disabled”
category, Upali has no regrets. His only remorse is that he can
no longer be in the front lines, fighting to save his country
from LTTE terrorists. But what he cannot physically do, he uses
his mental and emotional strength to instill moral courage in
young soldiers leaving for the battlefield. He has become a fount
of courage and inspiration to countless young men and women who
freshly join the security forces. Upali can never forget the sacrifices
of his superiors, especially the last moments of Lieutenant General
Kobbekaduwa, who, though mortally wounded, said, “I’m
all right, see what can be done to the others.”
As he spoke to the audience in Washington DC,
Upali commented that where he is concerned, one of the biggest
challenges now is managing to keep himself mobile.
Following the concert, Sri Lanka expatriates
offered to contribute funds to help buy for Upali, a vehicle that
can be operated by disabled individuals who have lost their legs.
The Sri Lanka Embassy has agreed to accept funds
from Sri Lankans in the U.S. for this project and will remit the
money to Colombo.
Those who wish to contribute, may send a check drawn in favor
of “The Embassy of Sri Lanka,” along with a cover
letter addressed to the Defence Attaché, Embassy of Sri
Lanka, 2148 Wyoming Avenue N.W. Washington DC 20008. All contributions
will be acknowledged with an official receipt.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
29 February 2008