A Ghanaian soldier serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been honoured for his bravery and high level of professionalism.
Captain Aaron 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 former Force Commander of UNIFIL, Major General Alain Pellegrini 'expressed appreciation for the high level of professionalism exhibited by Captain Osei of the Ghana Battalion serving in Southern Lebanon.'
Capt. Osei on numerous occasions exhibited exceptional bravery and valour as on July 14, 2006, 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 10 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.
The statement said also that on July 25, 2006, 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.
He again led nine men on 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, Capt Osei 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.'