24th June 2001
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  • Remembering a hero - Lt. Col. Chandana Talpawila
  • Gallant soldier and friend - Ariyadasa De Silva

  • Remembering a hero

    Lt. Col. Chandana Talpawila
    Ten years have passed now,
    Since you left us in a tragic manner,
    Though your absence was so long,
    You were not out of our minds.

    Taking delight doing something daring,
    Was a rare quality inherent from childhood,
    It was no obsession for gain or glory,
    But purely for the joy of performing a brave deed.

    You were family's pride at one time,
    In school earned a name and fame for sports,
    A veritable soldier of renown in the army,
    Your whole career was eventful and impressive.

    Your life as an army officer,
    Was one filled with turmoil and responsibility.
    Restless, sleepless and cheerless,
    Exposed always to danger and risk.

    You manifested your capabilities in full measure,
    As an experienced army officer popular,
    Due appreciation of superiors received,
    Resulting in getting your promotions in quick succession.

    Your last involvement in the war at Trinco,
    It was the third day of a hazardous operation,
    Unexpectedly the enemy under ambush,
    Opened fire killing a captain and some soldiers at the spot.

    You were not spared unhurt either,
    Sustained fatal injuries on your legs,
    Causing to bleed profusely for nearly two hours,
    And thus you passed away sacrificing your life.

    It is said that the "good die young",
    In your life of fame and praise,
    Objects aimed or work started never left undone,
    Your cherished hopes were all fulfilled.

    Greater service can no man render to his country,
    Than a soldier prepared to serve risking his life,
    Depending solely on this belief,
    At all times you acted accordingly.

    When your motherland was ravaged by war, 
    Yeoman service rendered by you,
    Deserves all praise and honour no doubt,
    But your loss is irreparable and a deep grief to parents.

    You are always fondly remembered,
    Heroic deeds are honoured highly,
    May you suffer no agony meeting with untimely deaths hereafter,
    May the merits acquired by you help to attain Nibbana.

    P. Talpawila (Thaththa)

    Gallant soldier and friend

    Ariyadasa De Silva
    Old soldiers never die, they just fade away, they say. That is how we remember Ariyadasa De Silva Guardie Punchihewa - a gallant chief petty officer of the Ceylon Navy Volunteer Reserve (CRNRVR). 

    He passed away at the ripe old age of four score and two years recently at Rawathawatta, Moratuwa. He was my dear first cousin with whom I had a close relationship from my boyhood days. To us he was Ariyadasa Aiya or "Sudu Aiya". Among ex-servicemen; his friends and old colleagues, he was known as Punch or Punchi. 

    Ariyadasa Aiya was educated at St. Bendict's College, Colombo, where he excelled in the Ceylon Cadet Battalion. He rose to the rank of sergeant NCO - Quarter Master and showed his prowess as a top marksman. He carried away several awards as an excellent rifle shooter. He was a long-standing member of the Ceylon Rifle Association and won many shields and awards. 

    While at school, he actively took part in cricket, athletics, gymnastics and swimming.

    After World War II, most of the army and navy units were disbanded and the men demobilized. He found employment in the then Colombo Port Commission, as an assistant patrolling officer of its security division. 

    While at the Colombo Port Commission, he took an active part in its Buddhist activities. He was general secretary of the Varaya Bauddha Bala Mandalaya for many years and life member of the Sarvodaya Sharmadana Society, vice president of the Ceylon Ex-Servicemen's Association and past president of the Kathaluwe Guardie Punchihewa family society. 

    After retirement, he and his wife Siripali (who pre-deceased him a few years ago), migrated to Australia and the U.S.A to live with their daughter Ramani and husband in California and also with their younger son Nimal and his wife in Australia. Ariyadasa and Sripali were a loving couple. 

    The tragic turning point of Ariyadasa Ayiya's life came with the untimely death of his wife Sripali, after which his health declined. His eldest son Raja and his wife live at Kelaniya. Besides his three children, he leaves behind his eldest sister Nandaawathie Perera and his elder brother Keerathidasa. 

    His son Raja disclosed that he had left a written document typed and signed by him, detailing how his obituary notice should be written and the way the last rites should be accorded. He had wanted Buddhist last rites but no floral tributes, no funeral orations, no tom-tom beating, no navy band, only the Last Post-the bugle to be sounded with a volley of gunshots, and that he be dressed in his naval uniform. 

    All his last wishes were duly fulfilled by his children. May he attain Nibbana. 

    Gamini G. Punchihewa

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