Portuguese Army’s Most Decorated Military Officer In History Dies from Covid-19, aged 80
Lieutenant Colonel Marcelino da Mata, the most decorated military officer in the history of the Portuguese Army, died today (Thursday 11) aged 80, at the Amadora-Sintra Hospital in Lisbon, from Covid-19, military sources confirmed. His funeral is expected to take place in the coming days.
Marcelino da Mata, was born in Ponte Nova, Guinea, and was a part of the Portuguese special forces, in a battalion of Commandos made up only of Guinean natives, where he distinguished himself in several dangerous operations, including Mar Verde, where his team conducted ‘search and rescue’ missions to release Portuguese military prisoners of war in Guinea Conakry.
Marcelino began his career as a soldier and rose through the military ranks quickly due to his valour and bravery in combat, and is said to have participated in more than 2400 operations. He was decorated, among others, with the military order of the Tower and Sword of Valor, Loyalty and Merit, and five War Crosses.
In 1975 he was arrested and tortured at Ralis barracks and in Caxias, but he escaped and ended up taking refuge in Spain, returning on the 25th of November 1975.
Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Admiral António Silva Ribeiro, said in an official statement, “Today, an extraordinary combatant died, who served Portugal with honour and glory. Lieutenant-Colonel Marcelino da Mata devoted his entire active life to the Army, where he served as a square, sergeant and officer, having been promoted twice by distinction”.
He continued, “He did the entire Overseas War in Guinea, his homeland, where he distinguished himself for his achievements in combat, with special relevance in the Command Troops, being the most decorated military officer in the history of the Portuguese Army”.
He concluded, “We have the memory of a great man and a distinguished military man, who, with extraordinary value, loyalty and merit, provided unusual services to Portugal”.
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