Brunei is a very small country and is more or less like a county in Ireland. In many respects, the community knows each other quite well and even between the local and expatriate community, extensive links exist between people. So, as one can imagine, it has been a very emotional start to Ramadan, with the crash of the military helicopter with 12 fatalities and 2 injuries. Read more about it here.
In such a small country, word reached us quickly that something had happened and we immediately worried. We have family and friends who are regularly involved in military movements in the country, so you immediately hope that things will be ok. On Friday night, we watched message after message arrive with updates, unfortunately, each one worse than the next. Soon it was clear that this was not a minor incident, but one that would shock the country but also touch us in a very personal way.
Liyana, Maria's cousin, married JJ in March 2010. You can see some photos here and here. JJ, in typical military fashion, was the dashing groom, but more importantly, was clearly someone who loved Liyana and thats what mattered to us. JJ and Liyana have a wonderful son, Muzzy, who is the splitting image of his dad. Our kids were won over when JJ turned up for his wedding day in full military gear, including a sword, which to young boys was amazing !
On Friday, we lost JJ - he died doing what he loved to do - leading a group of new recruits, deep in the Brunei Jungle. They were traveling back home after a week of exercises, when the helicopter they took went down. For some time, it was clear that JJ was not listed amongst the dead, but listed as missing. You hoped that he had survived, he was a triathlete and very fit. With one of the 14 having made it out of the jungle on foot, we hoped that JJ would appear but it was not to be. Word reached us on Saturday morning that he had not survived.
We have all shed more than a tear since then, no only for JJ but for all 12 young Bruneian's who lost their lives on Friday. They were all so young, 4 girls and 8 boys ........ we hope that the 2 that survived make a full recovery. JJ will always live on in Muzzy and the baby due the end of the year ~ Al Fatihah.