F or one year, the unit had been secretly deployed under the code name Operation Jaguar to protect the Sultan of Oman from an insurgent force, the Popular Front, for the liberation of the occupied Arabian Gulf. On the morning of July 19, 1972, 250 of the frontline's best fighters stormed the harbor in a surprise attack that stalked the nine SAS men in their fort.
Labalaba, 30, knew that without greater firepower, the unit almost certainly destroyed. In a daredevil break he sprinted over an exposed 800-yard track to reach a 25-pound field cannon.
The gun usually required a team to operate it, and when he reached it, Labalaba was soaked in blood from a bullet wound on his jaw. But the elite soldier, still under heavy fire, turned his weapon to face the advancing guerrilla fighters and opened up close.
He ignored his wounds and held back the 250 frontline fighters for six hours. Captain Mike Kealy and comrades Tommy Tobin and Sekonaia Takavesi also wielded the 800-meter glove to save the sergeant's life.