UPDF officer killed in Somalia laid to rest

UPDF officers from 5th Division at Acholpii carry the casket containing the remains of their colleague Lt. Denis Okech Okello killed in Somalia June 17, 2015. PHOTO/ Hudson Apunyo



A former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Commander turned UPDF officer who was June 17 killed in an ambush in Somalia by Al-Shabaab militants has been laid to rest at his home in Boroboro Parish, outside Lira town.

Maj. Geoffrey Kyomuhendo, an officer from Task Force 21 of UGABAG 15 (21Bn) in Somalia who escorted the casket told mourners that  Lt. Denis Okech Okello died as a result of a bomb that hit his vehicle that was traveling in a convoy he was commanding from Tortorow to Baledogle.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of our gallant officer which occurred on June 17 on Tortorow Baledogle road,” he said.

Maj. Kyomuhendo said Lt. Okello died in line of duty as a loyal and courageous commander. He said Okello played a pivotal role in the capture of Tortorow town from Al-Shabaab militants two weeks before his death.

Early this month, the Somali National Army supported by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops under the ‘Operation Western Sweep,’ captured Tortorow, a town located in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia from Al-Shabaab militants.

AMISOM said in a statement that the repulsed militants resorted to using Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) to attack soft targets such as supply convoys.

The army apologized for late delivery of the remains siting constrains in resources.

Condolence message from AMISOM, UPDF

Maj. Gen. Mohammedesha Zeyinu who wrote for force Commander AMISOM said Okello “was exemplary in the conduct of his duties, always at the forefront during the difficult time and showing dedication to the mission mandate.”

“His loss will not be in vain, but rather a justification for continued effort by the officers and men serving in this mission to attain the objective for which he demonstrated such selfless dedication, courage and strength.”

UPDF officers lay a wreath on the casket of Lt. Denis Okech Okello killed in Somalia on June 17, 2015. He was laid to rest at his home in Boroboro outside lira town on Thursday. PHOTO/ Hudson Apunyo

UPDF officers lay a wreath on the casket of Lt. Denis Okech Okello killed in Somalia on June 17, 2015. He was laid to rest at his home in Boroboro outside lira town on Thursday. PHOTO/ Hudson Apunyo

Uganda Contingent Commander Brig. Gen. Sam Kavuma said the UPDF have misswed him but shall continue with the resolute to achieve what he sacrificed his life for.

The UPDF Chief of Personnel and Administration Brig Joseph Musanyufu noted that Okello was a true patriot, his valor and bravery are evident. He said the family and the UPDF as an institution has incurred a big loss.

Lira District chairperson Alex Oremo Alot said he does not want Uganda to be very happy across the board yet there is pain North, East and West. “I would like everybody to feel comfortable in their areas of operation.”

Adekokwok Sub County LC III Chairperson Alengo urged the youth not to be discouraged by the death of Lt. Okello from joining the army.

Life History of Lt. Okello

Okello was born on December 10, 1975 to Willy Okech of Ngilaacel clan. First born, Okello went to Canon Lawrence Demonstration School for P1 to P7. He then joined Apala Secondary School in 1994 but was abducted by LRA two years later.

He returned from captivity in 2004 and was integrated into the UPDF.

According to records, he joined the UPDF on February 19, 2004 and was commissioned to 2Lt in 2007. The following year he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, which he held till his death.

Okello attended Officer Cadet Course 2007 at Uganda Military Academy, Kabamba, and Platoon Commanders Course in 2010 at Junior Staff College, Jinja.

He served as Platoon Commander in 105Bn from January 2004, then Platoon Commander 21Bn until his death.

He is survived by a widow and five children.

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