It was a somber mood at Entebbe airbase as bodies of 12 UPDF soldiers who died in Somalia were returned.
On Sunday morning, what was supposed to be a year’s tour of duty for a group of 12 UPDF soldiers was brought to halt when they were ambushed by Al Shabaab insurgents while on patrol in the lower Shabelle region.
At 2:32 pm, the Boeing 737 carrying the caskets containing the bodies touched down at Entebbe airbase.
Tears rolling down the faces of some of the deceased’s relatives as the caskets were lowered down from the plane.
Later, senior UPDF officers including the Deputy CDF Maj Gen Wilson Mbadi, Maj. Gen Peter Elwelu (Land Forces), Brig.Karemire and Brig. Sam Igumba among others received the bodies.
With black armbands on their left arms, the UPDF generals mounted a guard of honor for the deceased before 2 stanzas of the national anthem were played by the army band.
The UPDF flags flew at half-mast.
The bodies were later put into the UPDF funeral vans and driven to Bombo Military Hospital from where they will be released to the relatives.
Speaking to ChimpReports at the airport, Ojuka Zebron said he was broken by the news the death of his brother to Sergeant Faustin Elimu.
“I first heard of it on the radio on Sunday. I almost collapsed when a friend in the UPDF called me to inform me of the death,” a weeping Ojuka said.
“It is a great loss. The wives, children and parents will now suffer. All his dependents will face it rough. “
Sgt. Elimu from Katile Sub County in Soroti had 2 wives and 11 children.
William Omalia, a brother to the deceased UPDF sergeant said they expected Elimu to return in December after accomplishing one year on the foreign mission.
Speaking to journalists, the army spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire praised the deceased soldiers as heroes who died on duty.
“This has been a very dignified death. They died in service of the country. This is how real men should die,” Brig.Karemire said.
The UPDF mouthpiece added that the mission in Somalia is not only for Uganda but the entire continent.
He however, said the duty now lies on the remaining soldiers and the country at large to see that their death wasn’t in vain.
“It is incumbent on us now to see we accomplish the mission.”
This year the Uganda People’s Defense Forces mark 10 years in Somalia since the first group arrived on Somali land.
Since 2007, the Ugandan forces have formed the biggest contributing army on the continent for AMISOM.
UPDF has contributed 22 battle groups, the latest being UGABAG 22 that left last month for.