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Valour and Courage: Kanang ak Langkau S.P.; P.G.B. – UCIS 8 Rangers in a firefight at Tanah Hitam
Death or Glory
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The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
Stories Of Valour
No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“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

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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Kanang ak Langkau S.P.; P.G.B. – UCIS 8 Rangers in a firefight at Tanah Hitam
Friday, February 24, 2006
In the annals of the Malaysian Military History no one person was more decorated than Kanang anak Langkau of the Ranger Corps. He is one of the very few survivors ever conferred the "Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa" whilst still alive and a "Pingat Gagah Berani". No other person has ever received two gallantry awards in the history of the Malaysian Armed Forces. No other Corps can boast of a warrior of his stature but the Ranger Corps. This happened when Lieutenant Colonel C.A. Tony Loone was the Commanding Officer of 8th Rangers.

On a patrol on the morning of 2nd February 1980, a sub-unit commanded by 1029095 Sgt Salleh bin Ahmad from No.9 Platoon, C Company, 25th Royal Malay Regiment made contact with the Enemy. One Enemy who was an “Orang Asli” (Original People of Malaysia) who was believed to a Communist Terrorist at Tanah Hitam., in Tanjung Rambutan, Chemor. The Royal Malay Battalion at that time was commanded by Lt Col Mohamed bin Osman (12304). The Battalion was conducting Operation “Gerakan Setia”. After that incident No. 9 Platoon was one day attacked, one round from a shotgun shattered the silence in the jungle, the shooter escaped. The round from that shotgun was stopped by the head of 1023907 Pvt. Abu bin Abd Rahman who had just completed his sentry duties and about to rest inside his hammock. Death was instant.

8th Rangers which at that time was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel C.A. Loone (200104) was deployed. The sub-unit chosen to track and destroy the Enemy was the UCIS Platoon of 8th Rangers. This follow up was assisted by 25 Royal Malay. The operation orders were deivered by the Brigade Commander, Ahmad bin Hj Kadir. They were deployed from Camp Syed Putra, along the Tambun – Tanjung Rambutan road. The UCIS Commander was 2Lt Johnson anak Meling (3000491), his Platoon Sergeant was Sgt Kanang ak Langkau. The rest of the members of the UCIS Platoon were :

1. 455669 Cpl Mohd Nasir bin Mohd Nordin
2. 931635 Cpl Omar bin Awang Tengah
3. 931890 Lcpl Seaday ak Meloh
4. 1011643 LCpl Rajagopal al Subramaniam
5. 931630 Rgr Kalang bin Batang
6. 932494 Rgr Mohe ak Singkie
7. 213611 Rgr Mohamad bin Che Will
8. 213614 Rgr Jamian bin Hj Lajis
9. 213573 Rgr Mohamad bin Tisman
10. 213613 Rgr Mustaffa Kamal bin Majid
11. 1011293 Rgr Zulhisham bin Shahrum
12. 1011336 Rgr Rosli bin Md Isa
13. 1011577 Rgr Kanagasan
14. 1012101 Rgr Abdullah bin Chik
15. 1012424 Rgr Muniandy al Gindaraju
16. 931899 LCpl Abang Mohd Salleh bin Abang Morshidi (Medic)
17. 212057 Rgr Mohd Arif bin Harun (Assault Pioneer)
18. 931531 LCpl Jonathan ak Aton (Assault Pioneer)
19. 932281 Rgr Meringai ak Ledang (Assault Pioneer)

The others attached were from D Company of 8th Rangers :

1. 931569 LCpl Sutoh ak Minon
2. 1021661 Rgr Sakaria bin akop
3. 1025083 Rgr Omar bin Mahmud
4. 1025085 Rgr Ghazali bin Sudin
5. 1025093 Rgr Kathina Vellu al Sitamparam
6. 1025129 Rgr Valalam al Muniady
7. Rgr Sulaiman
8. Rgr Sharif
9. Rgr Idris.

After receiving the orders from the Brigade Commander 2Lt Johnson Mileng led his men into the operational area. He broke up his platoon into 3 groups to track down the Enemy. Sgt Kanang led one group, Cpl Omar led another and he himself led one other group. The Platoon married up again after a day as Sgt Kanang and his group reported coming across Enemy tracks. They had come across an enemy Camp that could accommodate 10-15 men. After a week of tracking, they found that the Enemy was trying to dominate the area. They were required to report to the CO of 25 RMR, as they were placed under his command. They were re -supplied after a week, “Ops Pukat was launched by 8th Rangers after that re-supply, in the Tanah Hitam area of Chemor. After they were re-supplied, Rgr Sulaiman stepped on a booby trap, as he was removing a tree branch which lay in his way. He was extricated to be treated at a hospital.

Since the insertion of the UCIS Platoon of 8th Rangers , 10 days had already passed, with the finding of Enemy traces, but they still had not got into grips with the Enemy. It was already the 13th February 1980. Sgt Kanang did not at any time show or display that he was bored in leading the patrols assisted by Cpl Omar, in fact he was eager and displaying the indomitable fighting spirit of the Corps. On the morning of February 1980 as the Platoon climbed a hill, as it was descending, Sgt Kanang came across an empty wrapping of “Maggi*” noodles. * Popular brand name for instant nnodles.

After that they walked, patrolling for quite some time, they were tired and weary. They stopped on a hill to cook for lunch. After lunch they continued their patrolling, as usual Sgt Kanang being the expert tracker took the lead. Sgt Kanang reached the foothill whilst the soldiers who were behind him were still descending. He found himself on a very level ground. Suddenly he spotted an Enemy sentry who was on duty. Realizing that he was in the vicinity of an Enemy camp, he fired at the Enemy yelling “Enemy ! To the right ! Enemy ! To the right !” The soldiers who were behind rushed forward to form an extended line, to shake up into an assault formation. They started bringing fire to the right as indicated by Sgt Kanang. Even though heavy fire was brought to bear against the Enemy, it was not very effective. The Enemy main force was well away from the heavy fire, it was located lower on the left, whereas they fired to the front from above.

The Enemy base was located and was assaulted by them, the Enemy by then had fled leaving large quantities of their equipment and food. The food left behind comprised of rice, sugar, cooking oil, pork, flour and liquor. One of the Enemy was believed to be wounded as there were blood trails in the direction they fled. The spent the night at that location, in the Enemy camp.

That night Sgt Kanang and 2Lt Johnson discussed their plans on tracking the Enemy the following day. They discussed the two possible directions the Enemy might have taken when they escaped. They formulated their plans to track down the Enemy along these two trails. The following morning the Platoon broke up into 3 groups. One group to form a firm base and stay put. Two more groups to conduct the tracking, one group under 2Lt Johnson and one more group under Sgt Kanang. 2Lt Johnson was to lead his group along the ridge whereas Sgt Kanang and his group was to track further downhill. The in charge for the firm base to be guarded, with the Enemy’s captured equipment and food supplies was left to Cpl Mohd Nasir and his group. He was also required to wait for the Combat Tracker Team that was on it’s way to participate in the tracking down of the Enemy.

After trailing the Enemy for around 15 minutes, one soldier from Johnson’s group stepped on a booby trap, which exploded, injuring Rgr Zakaria. They started making a winching point to extricate Ranger Zakaria. At around 1500 hours, a helicopter arrived to extricate Rgr Zakaria. They spent the night again in the Enemy camp, before continuing the tracking of the Enemy.

On the morning of the 16th February 1980 they left the Enemy camp to continue hunting them down. During this tracking of the Enemy they were assisted by the Combat Tracker Team, which was commanded by 23006 Sgt Jamaludin bin Razali and assisted by 22448 Cpl Abd Rahim bin Yacob, there were two Labradors (dogs) with them. Before moving Sgt Kanang told Cpl Nasir that the previous night he had a vision that it would be bad for Cpl Nasir to lead. He advised him to move at the rear or in the center of the patrol. These are some of the beliefs of old soldiers. Sgt Kanang believed in his visions very strongly. In his dream he saw faeces being thrown at Cpl Nasir. He did not allow Nasir to be the leading scout.

As required by Sgt Kanang, Cpl Nasir took up position in the center of the of the patrol. Sgt Kanag on the 19th February 1980 in the morning related another vision, this time to 2Lt Johnson, that he dreamt that he, Sgt Kanang himself was bleeding in the stomach. Realizing that Sgt Kanang had very strong beliefs in his dreams, 2Lt Johnson ordered him not to lead the patrol. 2Lt Johnson tasked Cpl Omar to lead, with 2Lt Johnson immediately behind him.

They went on tracking until they reached a foothill. The Enemy’s trail at that point broke up into many different trails. Johson stopped them and broke them into 4 groups. One group to guard their packs and unnecessary equipment. 3 groups to continue following the now split trail. Cpl Nasir stayed with Sgt Kanang’s group Sgt Kanang’s group was to track uphill. At the foothill Cpl Nasir saw a very small and clear stream, in it, he saw a footprint, in which the mud was still swirling. There, they were ordered to go back to their firm base to have lunch, to continue after lunch. Sgt Kanang looked depressed, anyway he ordered then to cook the inner stem of the wild banana plant as a fresh vegetable for all. He had foraged it along the trail.

They had barely partaken of their lunch, at 1300 hours, Sgt Kanang ordered his men to move out. 2Lt Johnson who wanted his men to rest was seen arguing with 2Lt Johnson. This argument was that 2Lt Johnson had not given his order to move out. Sgt Kanang ordered Cpl Nasir to lead. 2Lt Johnson was thinking, “What’s up ? He did not want Cpl Nasir to lead, now he wants him to do so.” After tidying up Cpl Nasir stepped out leading the platoon, following the now very clear trail of the Enemy. Johnson signaled the rest of the Platoon to follow the leading group.

After moving a short distance Cpl Nasir felt very queasy in his stomach, he had a very upset stomach. He had to really take a shit. He tried to concentrate on something else so that the urge to take a dump went away. He had already walked for half an hour. He had already descended from one ridge, the Enemy trail broke, split into two different directions. One to the left another to the right. He stopped to ask Sgt Kanang to make a decision on which trail to follow. After examining the trail he told Cpl Nasir to follow the trail on the right.

Before he could move one step forward he heard a cry from behind. The soldiers behind him shouted, ”Nasir ! Stop! Booby Trap! He turned around and saw that Sgt Kanang had raised his left arm indicating, stop. There was a branch which was forked in front of Cpl Nasir. Anyway the urge to shit was very strong. He went towards the tree to take cover and do his business. As he squatted to place his pack he heard a shot from the front, a bit to the left. He was struck down by the round which had penetrated the far left side of his chest. He yelled out to Sgt Kanang, “Sarge! I am hit”. He yelled while crawling towards Sgt Kanang. He desperately wanted Sgt Kanang to cover and help him.

Actually they were inside the location of the enemy, as they were at the foot of the hill. They only realised that they were inside the enemy's location when they found a communictions cord from the enemy sentry's location. This cord was running from the sentry's location to the enemy's main force. This cord is normally attached to a small bush or empty cans which make noise when pulled. This way the main force can be alerted by the sentry when an enemy approaches.

At that moment Sergeant Kanang was approximately 8 meters from the enemy sentry's location. Realising that, he launched the assault towards the right by firing towards the right of the enemy along with his platoon. After launching the attack to the right, it suddenly struck everyone that the enemy's main force was on the left, below the slope of the hill. Without losing his senses, he switched the direction of fire to the left, at the same time changing the direction of the assault to the left.

They ploughed into the enemy, a large force of the enemy managed to escape. Whilst trying to rescue his wounded friends, Sergeant Kanang himself was repeatedly shot, he took three rounds from the enemy into his body. Sgt Kanang in a very calm voice told Cpl Nasir that he too was hit. His voice was quivering in pain, when he told this to Cpl Nasir. Cpl Nasir bit his lips took cover behind a tree and started firing at the Enemy. He finished one magazine, as he was changing his magazine, his vision failed him. He started yelling for the medic. After a little while he heard his friends firing. LCpl Abang Salleh who was the medic crawled up to him to give him aid. The moment the medic reached him, he had passed out. The next time he awoke was on a bed in he General Hospital of Ipoh. Even with that success, they were saddened by the loss of one of their group who was killed and one more seriously wounded.

After opening up on the Enemy, Sgt Kanang called 2Lt Johnson. Johnson and Cpl
Omar inched their way forward under Enemy fire. By the time they reached Sgt Kanang the Enemy had fled. He went to Kanang and found that Kanang was critically wounded. He was shot. Sgt Kanang told 2Lt Johnson to leave him there and to pursue the Enemy who were already fleeing. He further told 2Lt Johnson that he would not die. Johnson, at first wanted to do so, seeing that Kanang was getting weaker he changed his mind on pursuing the Enemy. Johnson ordered the medic to attend to Kanang, his stomach was bandaged and he was given a shot of morphine.

A search was conducted in that area. no Enemy was found dead. There were also no signs indicating that the Enemy had been wounded. It was found that the Enemy was in 3 locations, mutually supporting one another, all facing in the direction of the approaching Rangers. In front of their location the booby traps were heavily laid. It is believed that the Enemy was preparing to ambush the Rangers. All the Enemy’s plans were foiled by the careful observation of the Rangers whilst on patrol. Had they not been observant they would have greater casualties. The Platoon suffered only 3 wounded. They were Sgt Kanang, Cpl Mohd Nasir and Rgr Abang Salleh, the medic. Lcpl Jonathan from the assault Pioneers using plastic explosives blew a winching point in the jungle to have the wounded evacuated. A Nuri helicopter evacuated them late in the evening to the Ipoh, General Hospital. The rest of the Platoon continued on the operations until withdrawn a few days later.

Lt Col C.A. Loone who was the Commanding Officer of 8th Rangers nominated Sgt Kanang anak Langkau for the “Seri Pahlwan Gagah Perkasa”. This was for his involvement in Ops Pukat and for the firefight on the 19th February 1980. The citation succeeded, thus Sgt Kanang became the second living recipient of the coveted award. This award was gazetted on the 3rd June 1981. The award was bestowed to him by the King on the 10th June 1981.

Sgt Kanang was born in Karangan Anok, Nanga Meluan, Kanowit on the 2nd March 1945. He was an Iban, who grew up in the interior of Sarawak. He grew up away from progress and modernity. Like all his friends in the interior, educational opportunity was limited. He schooled until Standard 3. Even though he had limited formal education, his knowledge on rivers, jungles, mountains, valleys and the life there made him a master of tracking. Very few could match him in his combat tracking capabilities. It was only natural that a person who was embedded with natural instincts of a warrior would choose the profession of arms.

Sgt Kanang started his Military career when he joined the British army as an Iban tracker of the Sarawak Rangers with his service number 18195179 on the 21st April 1962, after an interview which he had attended in March 1962. After that he was absorbed into 1st Battalion Malaysian Rangers on the 1st June 1965. He received his basic training at Changi, Singapore, trained by the Gurkhas. After which he attended training at Jungle Warfare School in Ulu Tiram, Johore. Even before his training ended he was sent to Brunei where there was the Brunei Revolt, followed by Confrontation. The war against the Indonesians.

He was promoted to LCpl on the 6th August 1971 and to Corporal on the 17th June 1977 in 1st Rangers. Promoted to Sergeant on the 1st January 1979 and appointed the UCIS Platoon Sergeant. On the 1st November 1981 he was promoted to Staff Sergeant. He was promoted to Warrant Officer 2 on the 1st April 1983. Finally he was promoted to Warrant Office 1 on the 17th February 1986. He retired a few months after that.

He retired on the 31st May 1986 after serving the nation valiantly, 3 years with the British and 21 years in the Rangers. He is married to Helen Latai anak Ani, they have 6 children, two boys and four girls. He is involved in agriculture and runs his own sundry shop in his village in Skra Hilir, Simanggang, Sarawak.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 5:19 AM  
  • At 1:39 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thank you sir for this. I'm the son of the late Major Johnson anak Mileng. Your article gave me a clear story as my father only once told me about this when I was very little.

  • At 3:50 AM, Anonymous Benedict said…

    Sir it is sad hear PW1 Kanang death. I happen to know him when he joined us in Sibu( 1st Rangers) as the CSM A Coy. A great man , with a lot of expirence, i used call him Apai and i still have the duko which he gave me. And to Kevin Gessie Johnson i served under your father also in 1st Ranger. He is another great officer under whom i served. I last met him in 1999 at PULADA. Both are true heroes. My condolance.....Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban

    WO2(R)Benedict Ramasamy

  • At 1:24 AM, Blogger tiongsinwee said…

    Both were great guys! Pleasure having been their acquaintance, while serving at Mile 14, Oya Camp, Sibu.....esp Kanang, being *senior ranks* in the same SGTS' MESS! I was in the Education Corp....attached to 2nd, 6th and 8th Rangers in the 1980's....when they were stationed in Oya Camp. Bravery aside.....i can say that (without exaggeration) KANANG was one humble soldier/person i have ever met in the military circle. My condolences to his family. N may his soul rest in peace!

  • At 1:25 AM, Blogger tiongsinwee said…

    Both were great guys! Pleasure having been their acquaintance, while serving at Mile 14, Oya Camp, Sibu.....esp Kanang, being *senior ranks* in the same SGTS' MESS! I was in the Education Corp....attached to 2nd, 6th and 8th Rangers in the 1980's....when they were stationed in Oya Camp. Bravery aside.....i can say that (without exaggeration) KANANG was one humble soldier/person i have ever met in the military circle. My condolences to his family. N may his soul rest in peace!

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