Captain Theja Mangala Liyanagamage
It is 20 years since the passing away of Mangala Liyanagame, the gallant young soldier who was gunned down by LTTE terrorists on 8th June 1998 in the Kilinocchi jungles when he was only 27 years old. Although two decades have passed since his tragic demise, he still lives in my heart, not only as a beloved cousin but also as a young hero from the South whose precious life was snatched away by brutal LTTE terrorists in the prime of his life.
Theja Mangala Liyanagamage, born on November 26, 1971, was the youngest of the three sons of late Mr. Piyasena Liyanagamage (All Island J.P.) and late Ms. Prema Liyanagamage (nee Samaranayake), both Government servants, of Hapugala, Galle. Like his two elder brothers, Mangala too had his entire school education at Richmond College, where he was an outstanding sportsman. His forte was Hockey in which he captained the college team and later represented the Southern Province and the Army. When he finished his school education, his parents wanted him to select a career other than in the forces, as his two elder brothers were already in the forces by that time. But that was not to be. Without telling anyone, he applied to join the army and when he appeared for the interview, with his nearly six feet stature and brilliant achievements in sports as well as his family background, the Army had no questions to ask. He was readily recruited to the Army on August 26, 1991 as a Cadet Officer. It was the beginning of a brief, but a most brilliant and exemplary military career.
You sacrificed your life for the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Although we cannot see you, fond memories about you are still fresh in our minds and will never be forgotten. Since your departure, every year in the month of June, your parents gave a Sangika Dana to the Maha Sanga in your memory and to invoke blessings on you
Having undergone preliminary military training at the Diyatalawa Miltary Academy, Mangala was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and thereafter, during his entire career in the Army he served only in the operational areas in the North, including Elephant Pass, Paranthan, Venthalaikeni and Kilinocchi, at a time when LTTE terrorism was at its peak.
Mangala was one of the pioneer members of the 10th Battalion of Sinha Regiment, which was set up in the year 1997. As an officer of the Sinha Regiment he was very well known and popular as an officer who served the Army with full commitment and dedication. In the year 1995, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. In recognition of his bravery and commitment, he was awarded the prestigious gallantry medal Weera Wickrama Vibhooshana (WWV).
Having served in the war torn areas in the North for a continuous period of over six years, Mangala was eligible to apply for a transfer to a congenial area in the South. But he did not want to leave the battalion which he led with courage and dedication. Then came the fateful day, June 8th, 1998, when he was actively engaged in the battle fields in Kilinochchi, he was killed by a LTTE bullet. He died with his boots on. It was the most pathetic end of a most promising military career.
Mangala’s eldest brother, Ravi (Air Commodore Ravindra Liyanagamage), who joined the Sri Lanka Air Force in 1988 as a Cadet Officer, is now the Base Commander of the Ratmalana Air Base and his other brother, Jagath (Captain Jagath Liyanagamage ), who joined the Sri Lanka Navy in 1990 as a Cadet Officer, is now Captain Logistic Department -South East Naval Command. If Mangala did not become a victim of brutal LTTE terrorism, by now he would have risen to the highest echelons in the Sri Lanka Army. But unfortunately, fate decreed otherwise.
Dear Mangala malli, we are proud of you. You are our hero. You sacrificed your life for the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Although we cannot see you, fond memories about you are still fresh in our minds and will never be forgotten. Since your departure, every year in the month of June, your parents gave a Sangika Dana to the Maha Sanga in your memory and to invoke blessings on you. All of us in our family circle as well as a large number of your friends participated for such annual alms givings. After the demise of your parents, this tradition is being continued by your brothers.
May the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with you always throughout your journey in Sansara.
Commissioner General of Buddhist Affairs,
Department of Buddhist Affairs,