I was among the 30 Army inmates under rehabilitation at the Army – managed wellness resorts that were flown to Jaffna recently on a picnic. Those gravely injured War veterans who are now receiving life-time care at Abhimansala I,II, III, Ragama Ranaviru Sevana and Attidiya Mihindu Seth Medura , were involved in this trip. Most in this group including me have visited Jaffna for the first time after being injured and turned physically-handicapped.
The commander of the army, Lt. General Krishantha de Silva was the brain child of this tour and it was coordinated by the Directorate of Rehabilitation and Security Force Headquarters – Jaffna. Sri Lanka Air Force extended their fullest support by providing an Antonov aircraft for the tour.
Flying to Jaffna in an Antonov aircraft forced me to recall my first flight journey as a military officer made to the same destination from Rathmalana airbase during war time in 1996. Ironically, when I get on board 20 years later on the same Antonov I had to experience the journey in totally different way.
I remember, about 20 years ago, while I was waiting to get on board to Palali bound air craft at Rathmalana air base I happened to meet one of my class mate who was an air force flyer by then. It was indeed a quite an opportunity as he took me to the cockpit and asked me to sit on tiny little seat which was located at a Protruded window. I was just behind the pilots, one of them was my classmate and the other one was a Russian. When everything was ready they started moving the flight along the runway and I was curiously looking at them as they were communicating through their headsets and pressing number of switches on their front and top and everywhere. In a few moments, the flight took off from Rathmalana, and I was looking outside through the window as I never had that experience before. Time and again, my friend explained me where we were passing by. It was Negombo then Wennapuwa, Chillow, then Puttalam and then the flight was drown in clouds having gone up in air further due to threat of anti aircraft missiles and thereafter I was not able to see anything except few clouds underneath the flight. In few minutes later I was able to see the sea and my friend said we were about to land at Palali airbase.
That was some memories of my sighted life and this time we took off from Katunayaka air base and it took only 45 minutes to reach Pallali. The commandant-Abimansala 3 Lt. Colonel Dannanjaya Aludeniya sat next to me in the flight and I asked him could he see something outside, he said “ no nothing, windows are covered and there is no different you and me now ”.
We were warmly welcomed at Palali air port and took us to the Thalsevana Holiday Resort where we stayed during our picnic. During the time (July 12-14) in the Jaffna peninsula, have visited nallur Kovil, Jaffna Fort, Dambakolapatuna, Nagadeepa Temple, Jaffna town-based Sri Naga Viharaya and a few other places of interest and the War monument at Elephant Pass.
Those dependent War Heroes who had served Jaffna during
The fight against terrorism was enthusiastic for the exciting journey having shared the reminiscent of war with colleagues.
Major General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander, Security Forces – Jaffna have made all required arrangements to make the picnickers happy and comfortable during the 3-day stay in the Jaffna.
During the visit we stayed at the ‘Thalsevana Holiday Resort’, were provided delicious meals and refreshments throughout. One evening I was able to have a quick sea bath in the northern shallow sea at Thalsevana resort.