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Air Force Base Hoedspruit hosts Chief of the South African National Defence Force Medal Parade

Air Force Base Hoedspruit hosts Chief of the South African National Defence Force Medal Parade

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is the country’s last line of defence. This national asset is ably and proudly taken care by women and men who serve the country loyally in order to ensure that its sovereignty is safely protected. It is therefore heartening to witness the SANDF recognizing and rewarding the many sacrifices that the women and men in uniform give for the good of the country. The ceremony was officiated by Lieutenant General F.Z Msimang, the Chief of the South African Air Force on behalf of the Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General S.Z Shoke. This was the first phase of a two-pronged ceremony.

This Medal Parade was for 30, 40 & 50 years of long and loyal service and medals were awarded to distinguished women and men in uniform who have served the organization unreservedly. The South African National Defence Force is a true reflection of the country at work and it provides sufficient assurance that our national interests are firmly in good and capable hands. That recognition is given to these members of the SANDF reflects a determination by the state to keep them motivated and encouraged so that they can continue to serve their country with pride and determination.

In his main address to the recipients, Lt. Gen. Msimang said “The medals of the South African Defence Force denote recognition by the state of outstanding achievements, bravery and loyal service by individuals and/or collective… The SANDF, however, is well aware that exceptional achievement does not come without sustained effort and much personal sacrifice on the part of both its members and their families. The SANDF therefore makes use of parades such as this one, to show its appreciation of, not only the achievements of the recipients, but also of the loyal support given to them by their families. These men and women have over the years served the organization with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism.”

The precision displayed by the recipients as they moved to receive the medals demonstrated beyond doubt that the security of the country is adequately secured. That they have served the country within the SANDF for over thirty to fifty years is a testimony of true patriotism as poignantly captured by the reading of the code of conduct. It furthermore provides positive impetus to the growing enthusiasm of young people to join the ranks of the SANDF in order to serve their beloved country.

Ours is indeed a Pan-Africanist military establishment as certified by Lt. Gen. Msimang when he said “Our soldiers from all the arms of service, the army, air force, navy and the military health service have played a very meaningful role in bringing peace and democracy in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Indeed the SANDF must also take some credit for the work done in Burundi in bringing peace and stability. Our men and women have fought gallantly and also have displayed the highest level of bravery in recent times. We salute our members and families of our members who have lost their lives on active duty internally and externally. We shall always remember them.”

The second and last ceremony was officiated by Brigadier General G.W Gibson and medals were awarded to women and men who have also distinguished themselves through long and efficient service of 10 and 20 years respectively. The awarded medals were as follows: Tshumelo Ikatelaho – Peace Support Bar, Tshumelo Ikatelaho, Operation Medal Southern Africa, Mandela Medal Bronze, Medale Getrou Diens 20, Medale Getrou Diens 10 and Good Service Medal Bronze. As the recipients were receiving their medals relatives and spouses were beaming with smiles on their faces. The recipients demonstrated a high level of discipline and appreciation for the recognition they were receiving from the state through the Office of the President- their Commander in Chief.

In his main address, Brig-Gen Gibson encouraged the recipients to continue to render service unreservedly. “Also evident in the bestowing of medals today is the recognition of the attribute Service before Self or as the Chief of the Air Force reminds us that – ours is to serve. It is worthwhile to remind ourselves that we are public servants and work not unto man for recognition. When obeying all lawful commands and executing our duties with diligence and perseverance it is important to remain humble as to not provoke the anger of those who are above us. Ladies and gentlemen, recognition is not an entitlement, it is an honour.” said Brig-Gen Gibson as he demonstrated the due diligence that members of the SANDF should exercise in the execution of their duties.

Brig-Gen Gibson went further to emphasize the centrality of a collective responsibility of steering the Air Force in the right direction. He pointed out that the men and women on parade are being recognized for their contribution to the advancement of the vision and values of the South African Air Force in the execution of their duties. Furthermore, he highlighted that the attributes displayed by the Air Force members is inspirational and a great example to follow – “The vision of – an Air Force that inspires Confidence – is reflected in the successes, which are recognized here today.  It is only through camaraderie, sacrifice and diligence that great heights can be achieved” concluded Brig-Gen Gibson.

The SANDF is a true reflection of the very promising road the country has travelled since the dawn of democracy and it epitomizes the character of a solid nation building project. The decorated members received the recognition on meritocracy, discipline and loyalty. It is therefore very important that other state institutions and the people should in all intents and purposes take a leaf from the SANDF and serve the country without expectation for material gain. The South African Air Force is a strategic air defence mechanism of the SANDF. A cursory glance on the composition of the recipients attest to a true spirit of nation formation and nation building.


Goldrick Mafologela

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Politics & Governance


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