Capt Mbaye Diagne Medal Awarded Posthumously to Peacekeeper’s Widow
Pvt. Chancy Chitete, a Malawian peacekeeper assigned to MONUSCO, was killed in action near Kididiwe during contact with the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) last November. He has now been awarded the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage, the UN’s highest award for valor. MONUSCO is the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Pvt. Chancy Chitete of Malawi
Pvt. Chitete’s unit, a joint formation including Tanzanian and Malawian soldiers, came under heavy fire during an operation conducted to prevent disruption to local Ebola response efforts. While providing cover for evacuees, a Tanzanian NCO, Cpl. Ali Khamis Omary, was hit and unable to move to cover or escape approaching militia forces. Pvt. Chitete dragged Cpl. Omary clear and began administering aid but was himself struck by enemy fire. Both soldiers were evacuated, but Pvt. Chitete did not survive.
A memorial conducted for Pvt. Chitete at a UN outpost in Beni, DRC.
Cpl. Ali Khamis Omary of Tanzania.
The eponymous Diagne Medal was created by the UN Security Council in 2014 in honor of Capt. Mbaye Diagne of Senegal. Capt. Diagne was a UN military observer credited with saving hundreds of lives in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide before being killed in action.
Capt. Mbaye Diagne of Senegal.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ presented the award posthumously to Pvt. Chitete’s widow, Mrs. Lachel Chitete Mwenechanya, at a ceremony in late May. It is the first time the Diagne Medal has been awarded since it was presented to the widow of Capt. Diagne in 2016. You can read the Secretary-General’s remarks online here.
Mrs. Lachel Chitete Mwenechanya at the UN Building, New York.
More on Pvt. Chitete’s actions during the mission can be found on the UN website.
Eight other peacekeepers serving in the DRC and Mali were also nominated by their respective missions, including SAAF helicopter pilot Lt. Col Stefan King, below. No armed CAS aircraft being available, Col. King and crew responded to a request for assistance for Guatemalan peacekeepers under attack nearby. Flying their unarmed Atlas Oryx helicopter by NVGs, King and crew sortied to assist. Upon arrival they began using flares to distract militia fighters pressing the Guatemalan soldiers.
Col. King later advised, “We did numerous runs and each time set off flares to deter enemy fire. Each run saw the helicopter come under fire and at least two RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) passed close enough to make our NVGs useless for a while. After just over an hour of orbiting and flare runs our fuel situation reached the stage where we had to abort.”
Col. Stefan King in Africa. (He is wearing Hill People Gear.)
The Guatemalan unit was able to break contact and return to friendly lines.
At another ceremony, another award was presented. There the Dag Hammarskjold Medal was presented posthumously to the 119 United Nations military and police personnel, national staff, and other U.N. Volunteers killed last year. Those 119 people, from 38 countries, had served in 12 separate UN peace operations around the world. (AP News)
MONUSCO Mission Specs at Peacekeeping.org.
Imagery from the UN Mission to the DRC on Instagram with hashtag #monusco.
Pvt. Chancy Chitete, in pace requiescat.
By David Reeder
Connect with the author on IG, @ReederWrites.
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