My Friend Fred Marafono, Fijian Warrior

Fred Marafono 13th December 1940 - 27th March 2013

Kauata Vamarasi Marafono M.B.E.

13th December 1940 – 27th March 2013

In the mid-1970s, I passed SAS selection as a young 20-year old from the RAF Regiment.  Only six candidates passed that winter course; five men and one very good young Rupert (officer).  I had superior fitness but not much else going for me at the time. The SAS must have seen me as a blank canvas they could turn into one of their own.

The day I was badged, I was sent to Boat Troop, B Squadron.  There was no Troop Rupert in charge, just a Troop Sergeant who introduced himself simply as “Fred”.  Fred was a giant in every respect; a physically massive individual with a presence to match. When he shook my hand, mine was lost in his.  I’d never seen a Fijian before, and in my ignorance, I thought he was a giant Gurkha.

Last weekend, Fred’s funeral was held at Hereford Cathedral.  I figured it would be standing room only. Still, I was awed by the sheer number of Regiment lads who had travelled far and wide to pay homage to him. Continue reading