President Salva Kiir has awarded Medals of Honor to 12 deceased founding members of the SPLM/SPLA Military High Command.
The senior officers and officials –most of whom died before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 -were members of the Political-Military High Command –led by Dr. John Garang.
According to Kiir -who is among the few surviving member of the high command –these individuals dedicated and sacrificed their lives in the fight for the liberation and independence of South Sudan.
He awarded posthumously; Dr. John Garang, Kerbino Kwanyin, and William Nyuon.
Arok Thon, Joseph Oduho, Martin Majier, Martin Manyiel, Yusif Kuwa, and Gillario Modi were also awarded medals of valour.
Others include Ng’achigak Ngachiluk, Lual Diing, and John Kulang.
Kiir also awarded several Alternate members of the High Command.
From the inception of the SPLA as a guerilla movement, many leaders who previously fought in the Anyanya wars were assigned various roles in the SPLM/SPLA.
Some of the leaders died after the internal split of the SPLM/SPLA in 1991, while others died during clashes with Sudanese government forces, and militia groups.
The awards were received by the surviving family members of the late veterans.
A brief biography of selected high command members
Note: This list does not necessarily reflect all the those awarded and information provided may contain several omissions.
Dr. John Garang de Mabior
Dr. John was the nucleus of the longest civil war in Africa. He was reported to have become adjutant to General Joseph Lagu of the Anyanya by 1970s. He joined the Sudanese army as a Captain upon the signing of the Addis Ababa agreement in 1972. He received military training in Fort Benning in 1974.
In May 1983, he was sent by President Gaafar Numeri to Bor to put down a revolt of disarrayed former Anyanya veterans. But as soon as he arrived in the South, he took charge of the SPLA in 1983 when Kerubino Kwanyin Bol led the Bor mutiny.
Garang kept the defence portfolio in addition to the chairmanship of the council till his death in 2005.
Kerubino Kuanyin Bol
Kerubino was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Sudanese army and former Anyanya fighter. He is solely responsible for sparking off the Bor Mutiny as the commander of Battalion 105 stationed in Bor town, Pibor and Pochalla. He became the second in command within the SPLA.
William Nyuon Bany
Nyuon Bany begun as a Non-commissioned officer in the Anyanya I, when was the second military commander to lead a revolt in Ayod after the Bor mutiny. He led his troops to join with Dr. Garang in Ethiopia. Nyuon became the first Chief of Staff of the SPLA. He led the New Funj battalion in an attack on Kurmuk in 1989.
Arok Thon Arok
Arok was a major in the Sudanese army. He was also army intelligence officer of the 13th brigade stationed in Upper Nile. In 1983, he became a member of the SPLM/A Political-Military High Command and senior to Kerubino Kuanyin, William Nyuon and Salva Kiir, although he was the last commander to join the movement after Kerubino, Nyuon and Kiir.
Arok served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration and Logistics in the SPLM/A. He was among the delegation that solicited arms from Libya in 1984.
Oduho was the oldest and experienced politician within the SPLM. He was a former regional minister for Southern Sudan. In the 1960s, he with Father Saturnino Ihure, Aggrey Jaden, William Deng and Clement Mboro lead southern politicians in Khartoum. In 1983, Oduho became a founding chairman of SPLM –the political arm of the SPLA, while Garang commanded the SPLA.
He began by heading the Political and Foreign Affairs Committee of the SPLM/SPLA.
Martin Majier Gai
Martin was a graduate of law at the Khartoum University. He was the Deputy speaker of the Southern Legislative Assembly under the regional government. He was among the think-tanks of the SPLM –the political wing of the SPLA.
Yusuf Kuwah Mekki
Yusuf was the SPLA commander of the New Cush brigade from 1989. He commanded forces that controlled much of Southern Khordofan. He was Director of SPLA Council Members for Khordofan Affairs. By July 1994 he was the number 3 man in the hierarchy of SPLA Executive Council.
He was influential in the large involvement of Nuba mountains fighters in the SPLA wars.
Ngachigak joined SPLA at the rank of a Major in early 1984 when the SPLA merged with the Anyanya II. He was young and fearless from Pibor where he commanded his forces. He led forces called; ‘Agreb’ translated as “Scorpion” forces.
Ngachigak attracted the attention of the SPLM Military High Command when he managed to capture Boma which was used as an outpost by the Sudanese government. He was immediately promoted as an Alternate Member of the Military High Command.
Lual Diing Wol
“Baba Africa” as he was popularly known was among the first commanders to organized the Anyanya II forces from Bahr el Ghazal Region and moved them to Ethiopia to form the SPLM/SPLA.
He was among the first advisors to Dr. John Garang.
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