It’s the year 2013, and members of the elite military units, 7 and 8 Medical Battalion Unit have been called to assist about 200 South African National Defence Force soldiers who are in running battles in the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui as part of Operation Vimbezela.
The soldiers are up against rebels, who hold far more ammunition and foot power than the SANDF soldiers.
The battle, which lasts two days, from March 22-24, claims 15 soldiers’ lives and several others are injured.
In honour of the medical services that were provided to the SANDF soldiers during the battle, the units were formally presented with their battle colours for their role in the battle of Bangui.
7 Medical Battalion unit is a specialist airborne medical unit of the South African Military Health Service.
Chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Vusi Masondo was present at the recent event, which took place at the military health training base in Thaba Tshwane, in Centurion.
“Honours are awarded to units for service and it is therefore of the greatest importance that they should maintain their prestige.
"Battle honours are therefore awarded to a unit only if such a unit really deserves it. Congratulations to 7 Medical Battalion Group; display these colours with pride,” Masondo said.
Two large flags with the battle honours, as per the maroon coloured flag of the medical units, were presented to each unit, which was then followed by a parade in which the units performed a gallant display of unison and discipline in the heat of the morning sun.
Colonel Mcebisi Mdutywa, 7 Med’s leader who earlier this year took up the position as the unit’s youngest colonel, led the parade.
He told City Press how proud he was of their contribution to the SANDF.
“You know it’s a real honour to be bestowed these battle colours. The unit was at the battle and assisted the soldiers and it’s always an amazing thing to be recognised for it,” he said.
About 200 members, as well as the marching band, performed an exceptional display at the parade, which Mdutywa said they had practised all week for.
Having been formally presented with the battle honours, Mdutywa said that the “colours become the all-inclusive image of the unit”.
“Regimental colours are treated with the utmost respect as they represent the honour and traditions of the regiment.
"Regimental colours bring together those who served in the regiment and are part of the physical display of pride and image of the regiment,” he said.