Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour

 

 

Maika (Mick) Quarikau, 1941 - 1996

 

Maika enlisted in the Royal Engineers in 1961, along with 200 young Fijians who were recruited in their homeland, for service in the British Army. At the time, the Army was in a transitional phase, from the National Service era to the ethos of the "Professional Soldier," which is now well established and taken for granted today.

On completion of basic training at 1 Training Regiment RE, Cove, Mick volunteered for service with 9 Independent Parachute Squadron. Along with several other Fijians, they started pre-para. Progressing through 'P Company and Parachute training and eventually joining 3 Troop in late 1962, becoming the first Fijian to wear the red beret! Mick quickly made his name in The Squadron" as an outstanding rugby player, either at fly half or inside centre. The team reached the semi-finals of the Army Major Units competition twice in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Early in this period, Mick was offered professional terms with a major Rugby League Club, but turned it down to pursue his Army career. With a trade in mind, he reported to Chatham for a "fitters" course.

During his time with "The Squadron," Mick made many friends both on and off the rugby field. He was well established as a man of loyalty and integrity - also a "demon drinker" of Draught Double Diamond (the "in" tipple at the time!). In 1969 he met Brenda, his wife to be, who was then serving with the WRAC in Aldershot. They married in 1970 and their son Robert was born in 1971, followed a few years later by Daughter Kalisi. In 1975, after thirteen years in "The Squadron," Mick was posted to Hameln in BAOR. By this time, he had given up engine fitting and Double Diamond and was a Corporal in charge of the crane section of 44 Support Squadron, 35 Engineer Regiment. This was a big change from Aldershot and "The Squadron," but with the onset of the mid 70's LOA boom in Germany, it became for Mick and Brenda a most memorable period and settled time in their life together. It was a period they reflected on with much pleasure and satisfaction in later years!

However, times were changing and in 1977 the Defence Chiefs announced an optional redundancy package (what's new!) for soldiers who had completed 16 years' service. Mick knowing it was unlikely to get back to "The Squadron," volunteered and left the Army in 1978. On demob he went back to Fiji for a short time but returned to settle with his family in the Stockport area of Cheshire. He then was employed for several years on security work in West Africa and it was there in 1992 that he contracted the tropical illness, which was eventually to prove terminal.

The family went back to Fiji in December 1995 for a holiday and although at this stage, Mick was very poorly, he made sure his children were properly introduced to their Fijian family background, culture and tradition. They returned home in January 1996 and Mick passed away peacefully in his sleep, with his family at his side on the 6th June 1996.

Maika Qarikau was many things to many people, a loving husband, a proud father, a valued friend and comrade, a warrior and a rugby player, but above all, he will be remembered by all who knew and loved him, as a Gentleman! Our sincere condolences go to his wife Brenda, son Robert and Daughter Kalisi.

Mick Quarikau
Mick with his rugby playing friends and comrades of 9 Indep Para Sqn RE George Dunne, left and Peter Kershaw, right
Mick Quarikau
Mick Quarikau

 

 

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