Major- General Odartey-Wellington, was the Chief of Army Staff of the Supreme Military Council II (SMC II). He unsuccessfully led his troops to counter the June 4, 1979 coup d’état by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) led by Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings which eventually got him killed.
He had earlier prevented the first attempted coup by Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings on May 15, 1979. It has been 41 years since the June 4 Revolution happened in 1979.
General I. K. Acheampong led a group of disgruntled army officers and usurped Prime Minister Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia’s government in 1972, and formed a government which they called The Supreme Military Council (SMC).
However, in 1978, General Acheampong was accused of economic mismanagement and forced to resign by a group of army officers led by General Akuffo.
On May 15, 1979, Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings was arrested and imprisoned after he led a group of junior Ghanaian army officers in an attempted coup d’état against the military government led by General Fred Akuffo.
The mutiny by the junior soldiers in Ghana Army was foiled by the Chief of Army Staff of the Supreme Military Council II (SMC II) Major- General Odartey-Wellington. He was a high-ranking member of the (SMC II).
On the night of June 3, 1979, a group of junior officers including Major Boakye Djan and enlisted personnel of the Fifth Battalion and the Reconnaissance Regiment in Burma Camp staged a bloody coup and freed Rawlings.
On June 4, 1979, Ghana was ushered into its morning life with an announcement on radio by Flight Lieutenant Rawlings of a change in government by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
He declared that he and some other ranks had taken over the government and asked officers and men to report to Nicholson Stadium inside Burma Camp where election of officers would take place.
He invited all officers who knew they had nothing to fear to attend the meeting.
Barely an hour and half later, Major- General Odartey-Wellington, Chief of Army Staff, announced on the air that an uprising which occurred in the early hours had been suppressed.
He, therefore, ordered officers and men of the (AFRC) to return to their respective units while steps were being taken to return the Armed Forces to normalcy.
He then invited Flight Lieutenant Rawlings and his supporters to meet him at the First Infantry Brigade headquarters at Kpeahie Ridge and promised there would be no arrests and victimisation.
The lull, which followed this announcement was, however, broken at 3.32 p.m. when a special Radio Ghana announcement said that Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings and his men had taken over control of the country.
Notable on the day was a display by Major- General Odartey-Wellington He entered an armoured car and single-handedly shot for three continuous hours. When he ran out of cartridges, he dashed to the Nima Police Station to surrender. That was the last time he breathed.
Unfortunately, he was killed on the spot by military officers immediately he came out of the armoured truck.
Major (Rtd) Ibrahim Rida described what happened: “They just opened fire. They just opened fire,” the bespectacled former soldier still appeared shaken by the 41-year-old story.
“He was hit….and as he was lying down dying, the normal way was [for him] to have been given medical aid immediately. Instead they opened fire on his body with a machine gun. They fired so much into his body that his flesh started shredding out. They literally shredded his body.”
Major General Odartey-Wellington attended Accra Academy in Ghana and various military training institutions including the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), and the United States Army Infantry School (Fort Benning, Georgia).
After being commissioned as an officer, he saw action in the Congo during the Congo Crisis, and also served in the Ghanaian UNIFIL contingent in the Middle East.
Under the National Redemption Council and Supreme Military Council I (SMC I) governments led by General I.K. Acheampong, Odartey-Wellington served in various military command and civil administrative positions. He was Chief Executive of the Ghana Timber Marketing Board, Commissioner (Minister) of Health and subsequently Commissioner of Agriculture tasked with implementing Acheampong’s nationalistic “Operation Feed Yourself” programme, before reverting to the position of Commander, No. 1 Infantry Brigade Group in 1977.