General Solly Shoke, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) chief, started the annual round of medal parades on Friday with SANDF Reserve Chief Major General Roy Andersen receiving his 50 year service medal.
As far as can be ascertained he is the first recipient of a 50 year service medal since the establishment of the national defence force following integration post democracy in 1994.
In his address to the more than 100 still serving members of the SANDF who received long service medals, Shoke said he was pleased not one of the medals had to be presented posthumously.
“I have ensured we are going to hold other medal parades in quick succession because we want to give medals to deserving members in their communities. This [the medal parade held at the Armscor sportsgrounds] is the first of four parades I intend to stage in Pretoria this year. There will be others in other provinces to honour SANDF members.”
South Africa’s top soldiers urged medal recipients “after three to four and even five decades of work in the SANDF” now having specific experiences and skill sets applicable to the military to pass them on to younger airmen, military medics, sailors and soldiers.
“Having spent a lifetime learning and acquiring experience do not lay it to waste unnecessarily – you need to mentor someone. In this way you too can contribute to the maintenance of the high standards the SANDF is widely acclaimed for.”
Shoke also told those on parade to wear their medals with pride because “you profoundly deserve them”, commending the recipients for their work not only for the SANDF but also for South Africa.
Apart from Andersen’s 50 year service medal Shoke also presented medals for 40 years’ service (one), 40 years’ service and bar (23), 30 years’ service (54) and 30 years’ service and bar (nine).
The next CSANDF medal parade will take place in Bloemfontein on Thursday (June 8) and will see 74 medals presented. These will cover 40 and 30 years’ service as well as the applicable bar for 30 years’ service.
Details of the remaining provincial CSANDF medal parades were not available at the time of publishing but the Gauteng parades will be held on August 4, October 6 and December 5 at the Armscor sportsgrounds.
OPicture: Witney Rasaka, SA Soldier