The Ghana Navy held a short solemn memorial service at the Sekondi Naval Base yesterday in remembrance of personnel of the Ghana Navy who died during the Liberian Civil War about 28 years ago.
The event was to remember and honour the memory of the naval officers and ratings who lost their lives in the line of duty from the infamous shelling of Ghana Navy Ship (GNS) YOGAGA in Liberia on September 14, 1990.
It was also to remember personnel who were callously murdered at the Sekondi Naval Base on February 4, 1982, as well as those who died in Peace-Keeping Mission throughout the world.
Exactly 28 years ago, GNS YOGAGA, as part of the Ghanaian contingent of the ECOMOG Taskforce that wanted restore peace to war-torn Liberia, was shelled in the freeport of Liberia by a faction in the conflict.
Four Ghanaian Naval personnel were among 15 ECOMOG troops who were bombed on their way to Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The four Ghanaians were crew members of GNS YOGAGA.
Three of them died on the spot while the fourth one died en-route to Freetown, Sierra Leone.
How It Happened
On the eve of Christmas in 1989 Charles Gangi Taylor, who once served in the Liberian Government General Service Agency under late President Samuel Doe’s regime, launched a rebel invasion with about 100 Liberian soldiers from Cote d’Ivoire.
The aim was to overthrow the then President of Liberia Samuel Doe but it resulted in a civil war in Liberia.
The liberation movement was known as National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) with Prince Johnson as one of the key generals.
Prince Johnson split from Charles Taylor in July 1990 and formed the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).
In an attempt to end the civil war, a group of West African nations under the auspices of ECOWAS sent a peacekeeping force known as ECOMOG to Monrovia in August 1990.
On September 14, 1990, a Ghanaian delegation visited the Peacekeeping Force together with troops from Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger in the heat of the invasion by the rebels.
The delegation were earlier conveyed from Freetown to Monrovia by the GNS YOGAGA and was scheduled to sail back to Freetown after their visit to continue to Ghana as the airport in Liberia could not be used.
The ship was later requested to evacuate casualties from the battlefield to the 36 Military Hospital in Sierra Leone and so the sail of the delegation was delayed.
Just as the casualties were being brought on board GNS YOGAGA, suspected supporters of Prince Johnson who might have been aggrieved by the decision of the delegation to meet President Doe instead of Johnson launched the attack.
The first shell landed on the ECOMOG Headquarters which was located at the harbour.
Within seconds, the next shell landed on GNS YOGAGA just around the mid portion of the ship.
Two other shells also landed in the sea very close to the ship and three crew members of GNS YOGAGA died.
In all, 15 ECOMOG personnel lost their lives and about 25 were wounded.
In his address, Rear Admiral Peter Kofi Faidoo, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) remarked that “we are remembering officers and sailors, who never came home to one day earn the title ‘retired.’ For when our country called they answered. No matter how each of them found their way into the ranks of the Navy, each took it upon himself to serve faithfully and to their fullest.”
He consoled the families and loved ones of the deceased, adding that “we as a grateful nation and armed forces shall never forget the fallen heroes. We will continue to remember them in our prayers.”
“We also pray for God’s continuous protection and grace upon the families and loved ones left behind,” he added.
The Western Regional Minister, Dr Kwaku Afriyie prayed to God to continue to grant the souls of the fallen heroes eternal rest in paradise.
“May He continue to inspire our armed forces and the navy to render selfless service to our dear nation and humanity,” he indicated.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Sekondi