South Sudanese on Social media this week mourned a young vibrant army pilot whose life was cut short by the raging conflict in the country. Second Lieutenant Matur Machiek popularly known as ‘Jarule’ among his social circles and majority of youth who have lived in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and knew him.

Matur is said to have been nicknamed Jarule during those days in Kakuma refugee camp when American rapper Ja-Rule was popular in 2000s. He was a fanatic of hip-hop and rap music and rapper Ja-Rule was his favorite.

Tributes from friends, families member, those who knew him in Kakuma and colleagues in the national army SPLA poured onto his Facebook profile on Wednesday when news of his death broke. Majority of the mourners praised the fallen soldier for his bravery and job well done while executing his national duties.

Matur ‘Jarule’ Machiek in his late 20s, joined the national army’s air-force wing when he returned to South Sudan after Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2005. He was sent to Russia with others to train on flying military helicopter gunships.

Adhelmouz as he is also known was on a mission charging his national duties on Tuesday 19th when he met his fate. The rebels had besieged the town of Melut in Upper Nile. The the rebels were using all sort of weapons mounted on about 3 barges to indiscriminately shell the town full of civilians from the White Nile. The SPLA forces on ground were overwhelmed by the fighting and the rebels had threatened to March to Paloch where the only functioning oil wells and the only government lifeline are located.

Though vulnerable, given the anti aircraft weapons rebels have got, the SPLA was forced to desperately order the use of the few country’s gunships in the battle to beat back rebels from Melut before reaching Paloch. The Russian trained Matur was one of the gunships’ pilots. He was wounded alongside his other crew members in air as rebels shot at his aircraft. He managed to safely land the helicopter and later succumbed to injuries sustained. Matur will be remembered as the hero who stopped the rebels advance to Paloch. He destroyed 3 rebel barges full of weapons and soldiers.

He was laid to rest in his home village in Yirol, Lakes state on Friday. We at HIJ salute this brave gentleman and condole his family. Rest in Peace!

See video tribute of Jarule’s photo slideshow above done by John Masura.

By John Masura (blogger)