17th July 2017 15:55:18 Hours
The 26th death anniversary of one of the most remembered War Heroes in contemporary times, late Corporal Gamini Kularatne of 6 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR) who paid the supreme sacrifice on 14 July 1991 to prevent an enemy bulldozer ramming into the Elephant Pass garrison was commemorated on Friday (14) at the monumental Gamini Kularatne’s memorial at Elephant Pass.
The commemorative event, organized by the 66 Division and the 662 Brigade on guidelines given by Major General Ajith Kariyakarawana, Commander, Security Forces - Kilinochchi (SF-KLN) consisted of an all-night Pirith chanting ceremony, near the Hasalaka War Hero’s memorial at Elephant Pass, followed by an alms-giving, the following morning (15).
Late Corporal Kularatne’s mother, Mrs S.G Juliet and family members also attended the commemorative event at the invitation of Major General Duminda Keppetiwalana, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 66 Division and Colonel Rohan Ponnamperuma, Commander, 662 Brigade.
Prior to the commencement of the religious ceremony, Major General Duminda Keppetiwalana, GOC, 66 Division, representing the Kilinochchi Commander, together with family members of late War Hero, placed floral wreaths at the monument and paid their respect as the formal Last Post was sounded, giving due honour to his memory.
As the dusk fell, the GOC 66 Division, Brigade Commander 662 Brigade, Officers, Other Rankers and family members, joined together, set the eternal lamp ablaze and lit hundreds of coconut oil lamps around the monument premises as a mark of respect to his memory.
Afterwards, the all-night Pirith chanting ceremony in the premises transferred merits to the fallen War Hero and simultaneously invoked blessings on the Army and its forward march. An alms-giving to the members of the Maha Sangha in the following morning (15), culminated the commemorative ceremony.
This young soldier on that fateful day lobbed a grenade against the LTTE’s explosive-laden bulldozer which was attempting to ram the Elephant Pass Army Camp and foiled the enemy’s attempt of entering into the camp. He blew up a grenade and laid his life preventing the LTTE attempt.
In recognition of this act of supreme gallantry, late Corporal Kularatne was posthumously awarded the supreme decoration a soldier could earn, the Parama Weera Vibhushana (PWV) Medal.In 1990s, the Elephant Pass camp remained an important target for the LTTE and a strategically sensitive area for control of the Jaffna peninsula.
On that decisive night, over 5,000 LTTE terrorists surrounded the 600-strong Army garrison at Elephant Pass and were trying to take control of the camp.
At dusk, the Tigers tried a new tactic, sending an armoured fighting vehicle, a converted Caterpillar bulldozer, to break the defence line. Heavy weapons mounted on the bulldozer hammered the defenders and LTTE terrorists slowly moved up along their demarcated path, smashing a bunker, and finally the bulldozer broke through the forward defence line.
He ran amidst heavy crossfires between the next line of defence and attacking Tigers. Corporal Kularatne kept on running until he reached the rear side of the oncoming armoured bulldozer and scaled its ladder. Hauling himself onto the armoured bulldozer, Corporal Kularatne used his grenades to kill the four-man crew, blowing up with the explosions. Thus, the passage of the LTTE bulldozer further, was abruptly stalled.
Late Corporal Kularatne was found dead on the road by his comrades later on as the dawn fell after the fighting. Corporal Kularatne was born in 1966 as the second son of a family of four brothers and a sister. He obtained his primary education from Ranasinghe Premadasa Madhya Maha Vidyalaya, Hasalaka. He joined the Army in 1987 as a rifleman of 6 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment.
The monument to Hasalaka War Hero was later set up at Elephant Pass with the remnants of the very bulldozer he destroyed after the war was over.