KOTA BARU: Lieutenant-Colonel (Rtd) Muhamad Izam Omar could never forget the day when he went on his last patrol, 36 years ago.
On that fateful day in 1982, he stepped on a booby trap set by communist guerillas, leaving his right leg permanently disabled.
Izam, who was then a 24-year-old junior officer, was leading the Bravo Company of the 23rd Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment, which was patrolling the Malaysian-Thai border near Klian Intan in Gerik, Perak.
A member of his company had stepped on a booby trap and suffered injuries to his left leg.
Due to the late assistance, “I had decided that we should move the injured man ourselves. But about 100m from where the incident happened, I stepped on a booby trap myself.
“The explosion threw me several metres from where I had been and my right ankle was injured.
“I was in great pain and it was difficult to move, but we had to get out of there as we could be attacked.
“I was flown by helicopter to Penang Hospital together with my subordinate who was injured in the first trap,” he said at his home in Kampung Jambu here.
The father of four said his leg had to be amputated.
“I spent two months in hospital and had to undergo follow-up treatments and physiotherapy sessions at Kinrara Armed Forces Hospital (in Selangor) for another six months.
“Throughout the ordeal, my wife, Khalijah Adnan, and my late mother were constantly at my side. I took what happened as fate. I was sad as I could no longer take part in operations with my fellow soldiers,” he said.
That black episode, however, did not take away his spirit and will. Izam continued to serve the armed forces, retiring in 2013 as logistics staff officer 2 of the 8th Brigade headquarters in Pengkalan Chepa.
“This physical disability had never affected my warrior’s spirit. In fact, I am proud that I had sacrificed (myself) for the peace and harmony of my beloved country.” © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd