“Vaka embodied the proud, honourable and long tradition of Fijians serving in the British Army. These remarkable men from literally the other side of the world are the best possible ambassadors for their beautiful country that Fiji could hope for. Tough, proud, independent, strong-willed, indomitable and courageous they come from a warrior tradition and make exceptional soldiers. But their unique cultural contribution also enriches any battalion they serve with. They are men of great faith, decency, loyalty and simple pleasures. They are no plaster saints – few Riflemen are – but they have a zest for life and a natural happiness of spirit that is infectious and makes them simply great company; one has only to watch them playing rugby with all the exuberant natural talent and grace that men from those islands seem born with to see it. We are very proud of them and I for one cherish them deeply.
“Vaka was all of these things and more. A big and powerful man from Nailuva in Suva, the capital city of Fiji, he joined, like so many of his fellow Fijians, for travel, opportunity and adventure. He joined us in December 2003 and settled well in his new home. He was a quiet, modest man, but his strength of character shone through. His taste in shirts was less discreet and he was rarely to be found wearing anything other than a colourful Fijian ‘Bule’ shirt. My memory is of a gentle giant; a courteous, smiling, humble man with a natural warmth of spirit, a gentle sense of humour, truly unselfish; in short a gentleman. He was also exceptionally bright. He scored top of his basic skills examination and read avidly, with a love of military history which he found inspiring. When I last saw him he was reading ‘Redcoat’ and we had a long discussion about the books we particularly loved. He loved being a Rifleman and wanted nothing more than to stay with his mates in the Platoon and talked of serving to his twelve year point. He had no desire or inclination for promotion; it was not that he lacked ambition – his ambition was simply to be the best Rifleman he could be.