The Former Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major General Alain Pellegrini, has expressed appreciation for the high level of professionalism exhibited by Captain Aaron Osei of the Ghana Battalion serving in Southern Lebanon.
Capt Osei was commended for his show of bravery under extreme conditions of physical and mental strain during the 34-day war from July to August 2006 between Hezbollah and Israel, a statement issued in Lebanon by the Ghanaian Battalion said.
The statement said Capt Osei on numerous occasions exhibited exceptional bravery and valour as on 14 July 06, the village of Marwahin came under heavy Israeli bombardment, resulting in the death of 19 children and two adults who were fleeing the village in a mini bus.
Capt Osei led ten of his men to stay in the village overnight to be close to the populace as a human shield and as a reassurance measure amidst heavy and close Israeli artillery and air strikes, until the village was evacuated.
Again on 25 July 06, Capt Osei led a crew of six men through very heavy shelling and air strikes to a UN Position to rescue and evacuate two Lebanese Army Officers and five soldiers to the Force Headquarters.
The statement said Capt Osei also led nine men on Thursday August 3, 2006 with three SISU Armoured Personnel Carriers to undertake a very daring operation to re-supply a UN position which was well cut-off behind Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) lines, and evacuated over 42 displaced Lebanese.
After the war, he was the first UN personnel to patrol previously unexplored and unseen out-of-bounds Hezbollah strongholds within inaccessible valleys and presented pictorial evidence as part of his patrol reports.
The statement said Capt Osei in clear disregard for his life and through the demonstration of courage, resilience, will and very good sense of thought and decision-making effectively commanded and controlled his men in the face of absolute danger and life threatening situations and saved hundreds of Lebanese and expatriate lives.
A citation accompanying the Force Commander's commendation, read by the Commanding Officer of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Ghanbatt 65, Lieutenant Colonel E W Kotia, mentioned Capt Osei's display of outstanding professionalism and sense of commitment in his capacity as Officer Commanding Ghanbatt Battalion Mobile Reserve during the war.
It said the officer displayed exemplary sincerity and rare qualities of head and heart, remaining calm and composed under conditions of extreme physical and mental strain and carried out his assigned tasks to the Force Commander's satisfaction.
"He was an example worth emulating by his peers and subordinates," the citation said.
The citation said that it was due to the performance of such officers that greatly facilitated the work of UNIFIL in implementing its mission during those extremely difficult days.
The statement said Lt Col Kotia after presenting a certificate of commendation to Capt Osei on behalf of the Force Commander, expressed his sincere appreciation and happiness for the recognition given to the officer and added that it confirmed the difficult role Ghana played during the 34-day war.
Lt Col Kotia added that the recognition should motivate all officers and men of the Battalion to continue to work very hard to support UNIFIL's efforts in trying to bring lasting peace to Southern Lebanon.
He commended Capt Osei and his entire Battalion Mobile Reserve for bringing such honour to the whole of Ghana and the Ghana Armed Forces.
Lt Col Kotia advised all Ghanaian troops to remain professional and continue to raise the flag of Ghana very high.
A delegation from Ghana led by The Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A R S Nuno, Mr Michel Haddad, Ghana's Consul General to Lebanon and Commander M.M Tahiru, Ghana's Defence Attache in Egypt attended the ceremony.