Flag lowering signals withdrawal of troops

National, Normal

The National, Monday 06th August, 2012

THE afternoon sun setting behind the Blue Mountain ranges of Baiyer cast its dim light through the few lined-up rain trees alongside the corrugated fences of Flyers Inn near Kagamuga Airport in Mt Hagen forming eerie shadows on the gravelled car park as the last few vehicles drove in.
Up on the pole in the centre of the car park, the PNGDF flag swayed alongside the national flag to the cold mountain breeze that signalled the end of another day.
Flyers Inn was the headquarters of the PNGDF 2012 national election joint task force for the Highlands for almost three months. It was unusually quiet following mass withdrawals of most sections and companies back to their units in Port Moresby, Wewak and Lae last week.
It was just after 5pm last Wednesday that the two flags were lowered, ending the final chapter of the Highlands operations that began on May 24.
At about 5.15pm, a strong commanding voice split the afternoon quietness as the military commands gathered for a little ceremony, which saw trained officers, section heads and several officers and two Australian defence force representatives fall into a perfect parade formation.
The parade paved the way for the 2012 Natel operations joint task force commander Lt-Col Ezekia Wenzel and the operational commander Lt-Col Tony Aseavu to signal the end of the operation as the two flags were lowered.
He said the task force was there to quell possible escalations of election-related violence and intimidation succeeded fairly despite criticism and accusations.
Wenzel said it was tiring, demanding and labourious but the men worked through some rough and tough conditions, sleepless nights and in extreme danger to ensure the people of the five highlands provinces and the country experience safe elections.
He paid tribute to the Australian force for its logistics support, especially in providing air transport before and during the elections.