Valour and Courage: Sergeant Indang ak Engkas, P.G.B. In A Firefight At Tanjung Kunyit.
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“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Sergeant Indang ak Engkas, P.G.B. In A Firefight At Tanjung Kunyit.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
In 1969, !st Rangers which was commanded by Lt Col Syed Aziz ( 28 May 68 to 14 Mar 71) was deployed to Sarawak. The battalion was based at Camp Pagar Ruyong, Sibu. D Company which was commanded by Major Mohd Ainuddin @Mammen bin Abdullah was deployed to Tanjung Kunyit, Binatang (now known as Bintangor). The headquarters of D Company was located at Pradong, Tanjung Kunyit. To be effective D Company broke up into it's respective platoons within a given sector to conduct a search and destroy operation. Sgt Indang was the Platoon Sergeant of Platoon 11, whose Platoon Commander was WO2 Chambai ak Gawan. Their mission was to search and destroy the enemy in the area North West of Tanjung Kunyit.

On the 20th May 1972 Sgt Indang led out a patrol to track down the enemy in the area, at this time the Battalion was commanded by Lt Col Baljit Singh (15 Mar 71 - 31 Dec 72). His patrol comprised of 901747 Cpl Matu ak Liban, 901309 Cpl Ranggau ak Pasang, 901079 LCpl Ayor ak Gawing, 901180 Rgr Ason ak Jampi, 901123 Rgr Makau ak Ijam and 901776 Rgr Masing ak Berasap. During this patrol they found traces of the enemy's presence in their area.

After following the signs of the enemy for quite some time, they came upon a house belonging to an ethnic Chinese. The traces, upon reaching that house disappeared. There were no more traces as they came upon a concrete walkway which linked all the houses in that area. Sgt Indang directed Cpl Ranggau along with two men to check out the house in front of them. After having given instructions to his men, Sgt Indang on his own, went to look for other signs that might be linked to the earlier traces around 500 meters from the house. He came upon some fresh signs in the undergrowth. There was a track of pressed down undergrowth. In the depth of the tracks he saw 3 grains of rice. Sgt Indang had one of the soldeirs call Cpl Ranggau, who reported that on the floor of the house he found grains of rice. He also reported that all the occupants of the house were in civvies ( not in uniform) and were Chinese. The question on their minds was, why on earth was rice scattered on the floor of the house.

Sgt Indang decided to stop, eat and have a meal before continuing tracking on the trail with the 3 grains of rice. They had their lunch and carefully followed the trail that was indicated by Sgt Indang. As they were very slowly and carefully following the trail, they heard the sounds of wood being cut, not too far off. The time was around 1400 hours. Sgt Indang left the rest of his men behind and very carefully edged forward to find out the cause of the noise, to verify the sound of wood being cut. At the same time, to identify the individual or individuals who were doing it.

He managed to close up to the location without being spotted. He saw a group of men who were in greens, armed and preparing a base for themselves. He wanted to be sure as he did not want to kill any of the Police Field Force guys in that area, who might have blundered out of their sector. As he was was observing them, a woman came into his view. With that it was confirmed that they were Communist Terrorists, as at that period in time, there were no Women Police Field Force doing patrols in jungles. He slowly withdrew making his way back without being spotted.

What Sgt Indang saw was a force of 30 enemy. He gave his attack orders to his force of SIX men. He very silently took his men forward without being detected. When they were a certain distance away from the enemy, they organized into an extended line (attack formation). This formation faced the location of the enemy. It was very difficult to form the extended line as the terrain was not even, obstructed by shrubs, roots and undergrowth. After placing all his men in position, he crawled towards the enemy's location, his men followed him, communication was by silent signals. After some time the soldiers becoming anxious asked him to open fire, as the enemy was close, very close.

Very carefully and slowly Sgt Indang shouldered the butt of his trusty M16, his right hand firmly holding the pistol grip of the rifle. His trigger finger rested on the trigger while holding the stock of the rifle firmly with his left hand. His right cheek close to the butt, his eyes focussing on a target through the rear aperture to the front sight. He rested his sights on a fat target, an overweight enemy. He flicked the safety catch from safe to "R". He gently squeezed the trigger. That one round broke the silence of the jungles of Tanjung Kunyit at Grid reference 887485. The one round from his rifle felled the intended target, a fat enemy. He was shirtless. To maximise on the surprise attack, he threw a hand grenade into the enemy's location whilst shouting "grenade" a warning to his men. Guide to grenades.

Right : Mills 36,used by the Rangers.This grenade had a base plug, where you had to unscrew it to insert the fuse and the detonator. One had to clean off the grease, before inserting the fuse and the detonator. Most of the times it exploded.

The enemy was lucky, Murphy's law, the grenade failed to explode. Realising that the grenade failed to explode he ordered the asault. In a flash they were upon the enemy, the enemy was fleeing helter - skelter for their dear lives, abandoning their position. After the enemy fled a search was conducted, two bodies were recovered that of a male and a female. 5 weapons of various makes were recovered, two of it were identified as a carbine and a sterling sub-machine gun. Even though they took a long time tracking the enemy they were not far from their base.

As the fight was going on, WO 2 Chambai was moving toward them with 6 men to come to their aid. They arrived just as Sgt Indang had completed the search phase of the attack. He reported to WO 2 Chambai that the enemy had fled. Sgt Indang requested that WO2 Chambai take back the bodies of the enemy. Then he asked for volunteers, " Who that are sons of their fathers, follow me"(Siapa yang anak jantan ikut aku"). All wanted to follow, only a handful were allowed, they were Cpl Nyawin ak Nyandang, 901203 LCpl Anyai ak Ranggi, Rgr Makau, 901531 Rgr Kintan ak Bakap, Rgr Masing and 901512 Rgr Emak ak Ditang.

They quickly formed up and started to track the enemy down, the time was 1600 hours in the evening. Cpl Nyawin was the leading scout. As the enemy that fled was a large force, the trail they left was easy to follow. The enemy's trail suddenly ended at a small tributary of a river. Sgt Indang made his appreciation (logical sequence of thought). The enemy had used the river in an attempt to get the Rangers off their tail. Sgt Indang went into the stream. They went upstream for around 50 meters, he saw a trail, on the right of the river bank which was freshly wet. He reminded his men to be cautious as they were closing up on the enemy.

He and his men climbed out of the river, soon they came across a log that lay across the trail. Here he laid his map on the log to determine his position. As he was taking his compass bearings, he was shot at, from the front. Luck was on the side of Sgt Indang, he was not hit. Without wasting anytime, he lifted up his rifle, he yelled "Enemy !! Charge, charge, charge...." at the top of his lungs. Sgt Indang himself, leading followed by Cpl Nyawin and and Rgr Makau charged into the enmy.

They could not form an extended line as the ground did not allow it, the undergrowth was too thick. They pursued the enemy for 300 meters. The enemy split after the 300 meters. Cpl Nyawin informed Sgt Indang of this, suggesting that they break up with Nyawin going to the left and Indang to the right. Sgt Indang took off to the right with Rgr Makau, Rgr Masing and Rgr Kintan. Cpl Nyawin was followed by LCpl Anyai and Rgr Emak. After moving for around 20 meters, Rgr Emak opened fire. Cpl Nyawin spotted what Rgr Emak was firing at and opened up too with his sterling sub-mahine gun. 

There was an enemy trying to flee. Cpl Nyawin ordered Rgr Emak to go left. LCpl Anyai followed him.Cpl Nyawin went off to the left where he saw some shrubs being shaken. He fired until 4 of his magazines emptied. He took cover behind an old and big rubber tree to recharge his magazines. As he was loading the magazines with 9mm parebellum rounds from his pouches, a woman terrorist crept up on him and thrust her rifle nozzle into his ear, telling Cpl Nyawin to surrender. All about 9mm parebellum rounds.

He instinctively used his left forearm to thrust the barrel of the rifle away, at the same time drawing out his "duku"(traditional Iban sword), before she could fire, he swung at her. He was confident that he had inflicted a mortal blow on her. He moved forward and saw another wounded woman terrorist, crawling trying to save herself. He rushed towards her, slashing and killing her.

Rgr Emak and LCpl Anyai who were in front, were calling out to Cpl Nyawin not to open fire, as the feared any firing from Nyawin would hit them. Nyawin joined up with them. The two of them still had enough ammo to open up at an enemy who was behind the tree. LCpl Anyai pulled out a grenade and threw that at the enemy. Once again the grenade failed to explode. Cpl Nyawin advanced toward the enemy holding his sterling sub-machine gun in his left hand and his "duku" in his right hand. He approached the enemy behind the tree. He had crept up upon the enemy and slashed her, she tried to protect herself with her arms, the "duku" cut through her arm, the second swing of his "duku" hit her head, nearly splitting it. By which time LCpl Anyai arrived by his side. He finished her off by pumping a couple of rounds into her.

Meanwhile Sgt Indang's group was moving on the right, led by Rgr Makau, the Sergeant was immediately behind him, followed by Rgr Masing and Rgr Kintan. They advanced whilst firing on the enemy. Rgr Makau managed to hit one enemy, suddenly his rifle ceased firing, as a round got stuck in the chamber (stoppages). Sgt Indang immediately seeing, Rgr Makau's predicament stepped up in front of him and brought fire to bear on the enemy. The two behind came forward to join Sgt Indang in the firefight. They continued pursuing the fleeing enemy. They were forced to stop the dogged pursuit, as the situation was not favourable to the Rangers, the terrain was unfamiliar and the day was getting dark.

During the search, they found 5 dead enemy, 1 male and three females.The 3 women were found on the trail led by Cpl Nyawin and the other two on the trail followed by Sgt Indang. 6 enemy weapons were recovered, along with the enemy packs and other gear. The day was getting dark as the sun was already setting. Without wasting time they collected the dead bodies of the enemy. Sgt Indang, later, related that they never realised the dangers they had faced during the fight. In the heat of the battle on the jungle floor the thought of death and fear were over whelmed by the burning desire to make the Ranger Regiment proud. When he gave the orders to charge, fear did not cross his mind. The training and the spirit of the Corps took over. He was damned proud of his men who displayed extraordinary bravery against the enemy even as the enemy outnumbered them. They were only SIX and the enemy was estimated at THIRTY.

After the contact it dawned on him that he did not have enough men with him to carry the bodies of the dead enemy. They decided to stash the enemy in the undergrowth and return later the following day to collect the bodies of the enemy. For that moment, they decided to only carry back the weapons and the equipment of the enemy. From Grid Reference 894478, he took a bearing to a river where there was a settlement. They reached a house occupied by an old Chinese couple. The time was around 1930 hours.

The two couple seeing the tired, thirsty and dishevelled looking soldiers, invited them in for hot tea and food. They were offered whatever the old couple had. The eat alot of raw cucumbers which was grown behind the old couple's home. The poor couple related to them that the Communist Terrorists frequently demanded money and food from them. If they could not meet the requirements, the Terrorists demanded that their Male or Female child be given to them as compensation. These children then became the foot soldiers of the enemy. According to the old couple their own children had fled to Sibu to avoid the enemy "draft". This was the reason that in villages like this, young teenagers are quite rare. They flee to avoid this "Forced Recruitment" by the Communist Terrorists.

After bidding farewell to the old Chinese couple, they moved, until they came upon the concete walkways, which is quite common in the Oya - Mukah - Tatau areas. * I beleieve they are still in existence, readers from Sarawak correct me if I am wrong - Major (Rtd) D.Swami. They reached Tanjung Kunyit after a trek of 3 miles.There was a co-opertive stall, where they stopped to rest and eat. The owner of the stall, a Chinese, gave them a lift to their base which was a further 3 miles.They tried paying him for the fare, he adamantly refused their money.

As soon as he reached the base he reported to his Platoon Commander WO 2 Chambai that his group had killed 5 of the enemy and managed to capture 6 more weapons. The total killed, plus the earlier encounter totalled 7 enemy killed. The following morning Chambai organised a patrol to bring the 5 bodies back to base.The enemy dead were sent of to Sibu by boat. The 1st of June was Gawai, all of them, expected to be extricated from their operational area, they were earmarked for this, as reward for their success. Unfortunately that did not happen, they were directed to continue the follow up, on the remnants of the enemy. The reason being, that area was heavily populated by the Chinese and the enemy force that fled comprised a majority of Chinese. What happened was, the enemy managed to evade the Rangers by coming out of the jungle and mingling with the local populace. The follow ups did not meet with any success.

Once the operation was over, they returned to Camp Oya, where they were greeted as the warriors they were. Sgt Indang ak Engkas was bestowed with the Pingat Gagah Berani by the King on the 7th June1972 for Valour against the nations enemies, in the highest traditions of the Ranger Corps.

Sgt Indang's father's name was Engkas ak Surat, who passed away while Indang and his siblings were very young, leaving him, his elder sister and two older brothers to be brought up by his mother. Her name was Laying ak Surat. He faced great challenges in the Long House where he grew up, it was a challenge for his family without a father. He was born at Rumah Langkau, Sungei Benasut, Kapit, Sarawak in 1938. He did not have access to education. He joined the Sarawak Rangers on the 21st April 1962, becoming part of the British Far East Land Forces (FARELF). 

He joined up as he was very interested in a military career, the other reason being, both his older brothers had joined up. They were Minggang and Lawang ak Engkas. He was in numerous operations against the Indonesians during the Confrontation. He served as a Senior Instructor along with his brothers in the Specialist Wing of the Army Combat Training Center (ARCOTCEN), now known as PULADA in Ulu Tiram, Johore.He served for 30 years in the Rangers. He completed his 30 years as a Warrant Officer 2 in PULADA (Pusat Latihan Darat) on the 31st May 1991.He was a very successful soldier who had taught himself to read and write whilst in service.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 5:00 AM  
5 Comments:
  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger Danny Liew said…

    It is regreted to inform that Sgt Indang had just passed away on 16 August 2012 due to heart failure.

     
  • At 1:30 AM, Anonymous Dom Paul Henry Nyawin said…

    Searched more on Wo II Indang's info yesterday & found this article. Great writing Major & I will definitely treasure it. My father WO I Nyawin Nyadang passed away in 2002 however.

     
  • At 11:49 PM, Blogger Larasepi said…

    agree great writing..perhaps should consider writing a book n publised its? 4 too many yrs ..they had remained the unsung heroes..its time to acknowledge their sacrifice we the rakyat n the nation owes them...so much..salute to the Renjer to the fallen esp Sgt Indang..RIP

     
  • At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To me Cpl Nyawin deserved the PGB award as well.

     
  • At 9:43 AM, Blogger D.Swami Gwekanandam said…

    Guys, thank you please send me the scanned copies of their photos and pictures, I will publish them. No, do not send me pictures when they were old, only when they were young. I would and others too would remember them as when they served.

     

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