Death of a Peacemaker

With the courage of youth,
and in the company of his mates
he moved forward as the lead scout
to form a ring of steel
between the oppressed people
of East Timor and banditry
loyal only to the violence
of the parang,
- and the politics of the machine gun.

At twenty four years of age,
he was under no illusions
as to the dangers he faced
when he placed himself in harm's way
and probed silently forward
to keep his fated appointment,
- with death and destiny.

Ambushed and caught in the killing zone,
he was unaccounted for
in the confusion of sustained
and overwhelming heavy fire,
reported as 'missing' only later,
- after the "Re-Org".

During the Company sweep,
his mates found him
dead where he lay
in the heat of an Asian afternoon
weapon missing, ammo missing,
and body disfigured,
- in the age old way.

And so in death, 
he journeyed back
that sad and cold
New Zealand winter's day
to the lush green fields
of his Waikato home
and the quiet streets,
- of small town Te Kauwhata.

And tributes came,
and tributes glowed
as the politicians spoke
but the tears that flowed 
from his mates that day
as they bore him shoulder high,
said more than all the gallant words
- as his cortege passed me by.

To the warriors chant,
and the Kuia's cry!
they slow marched through the town
and beat the drum with a solemn tone
as the left boot struck the ground,
they bore the broken body
of Private Manning upon high
to the wailing of the Kuia,
- and the tears as soldiers cried.

His Tour of Duty's over,
and his body's laid to rest
he sleeps the sleep
of stolen youth
in the soft sweet soil
of a warriors grave,
- and the Rangiriri earth.

In Memory of:
A997234 Private Leonard William Manning
Bravo Company, 2/1 Battalion RNZIR
DOB: 15 August 1975 - KIA 24 July 2000
U.N. Forces
East Timor

"Blessed are the Peacemakers -
For they will be called the sons and daughters of God"

(C) Copyright 2000
Mike Subritzky
All Rights Reserved