By WALLACE KIALA
AN EX-PNG Defence Force paratrooper passed away yesterday morning, allegedly succumbing to a stroke.
Late Chris Maraga, from Rigo, Central province, passed away while waiting to be paid his entitlements for services to the State.
He was reportedly one of the four remaining survivors of a PNGDF Caribou crash in Wau, Morobe province, in 1972.
The aircraft was on its way back to Port Moresby after troop training at Igam.
Since then, his health had deteriorated due to a leg injury sustained in the crash.
Mr Maraga was a PNGDF major when he was retrenched in 2002 and had been waiting for his hardship and accommodation allowance to be paid ever since.
A family friend said he was rushed to the Port Moresby General Hospital (POMGH) at around 5am yesterday.
However, he could not be attended to at POMGH, so the St John Ambulance vehicle, that transported him from his Hohola 5 home to the hospital, took him to a private clinic.
He was pronounced dead on arrival.
Around 7,000 ex-servicemen throughout the country have been waiting for the State to settle their outstanding retrenchment and retirement benefits dating back to 1982.
Just a few weeks ago, Justice Minister Dr Allan Marat announced that the Justice Department had finalised these outstanding entitlements.
After this announcement, there has been no further word from the State as to when payments would be made.
Attempts to get comments from the Justice and Attorney-General’s Department were unsuccessful.