BHT: Tributes as 2 NAF Pilots, Gunners & Engr who died in Mi 35 Helicopter Gunship crash are buried in Abuja

Aftermath of the death of five Airforce officers made up of two pilots and three crew members in a NAF helicopter gunship crash in Damasak, Borno on the 2nd of January, authorities of the NAF on Tuesday buried the officers.

Explaining how the aircraft crashed Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said the five Nigerian Air Force personnel died when the aircraft crashed while pursuing Boko Haram terrorists in their vehicles.

The five officers were buried at the National Military Cemetry, Karamajiji, along Airport Road in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari was represented at the occasion and Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali was represented at the solemn occasion by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.

The CAS said, “While we mourn the death of our departed heroes and these courageous Nigerians, we must also be thankful to God that such men lived worthy lives.

“In their last moments, these heroes showed courage, diligence and unparalleled commitment to pursue the terrorists’ vehicles and fight them to finish so that the lives of our soldiers of 145 Battalion Damasak could be saved.

“We cannot but be more thankful for these great Nigerians.

Expressing sadness over their deaths, Abubakar said they demonstrated patriotism in their services to their fatherland.

He said in spite of the sad development,the Nigerian Air Force in particular and the Nigerian military as a whole will not relent in the avowed determination to see to the total annihilation of insurgence and terrorism in the country.

He said the incident has emboldened the military to go all out for the terrorists.

His words, “These gallant heroes lost their lives in the pursuit of the peace which we all enjoy and often take for granted.

“We salute the courage of these young men, whose lot it became to give their lives for this purpose.

“The loss of these courageous and professional gentlemen must spur the rest of us not only to rededicate ourselves in the service of our nation, but also to resolve that we expose and fight all agents of destabilization and extremism in our society.

“We must throw in everything we have to this fight to ensure that our departed colleagues did not die in vain.

“We must do everything possible to bring the ongoing insurgency in the North East to a speedy end that is favourable to our nation.

“I am indeed deeply touched and saddened by the price which our patriots had to pay in this needless fight against insurgency.

“Our departed heroes fought that we may live in a safe and secure Nigeria where the freedom of worship and association of one and all are guaranteed under one indivisible nation.

“Therefore, as we resolve to re-dedicate ourselves to the cause of defending the nation, let me at this juncture restate our profound commitment and unalloyed loyalty to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his efforts at tackling the challenges bedeviling our national security.

“This is not a speech making occasion, but a time for sober reflections as we pray for the eternal repose of the gentle souls of our departed heroes, all of whom will be greatly missed but are fondly remembered for their invaluable services to the nation and humanity.

“Jacob, Kilyofas, Ibrahim, Nura and Ishmael, today, as you go to your final resting place, may the Lord be with you forever and be assured that the Nigerian Air Force and indeed the nation will remain ever grateful to you for your services and sacrifice.

“To the families of the deceased, I know Nigerians everywhere join me in praying for you as you shoulder this heavy burden of grief.

“May time ease the soaring pain of today and please note that the entire nation shares this grief with you.

“There can be no better consolation than the knowledge that the nation grieves with you on the loss of these amiable and patriotic Nigerians, who paid the supreme price in the course of their duty to the fatherland.

“As we conclude the interment of Jacob, Kilyofas, Ibrahim, Nura and Ishmael, we fervently pray for all our departed colleagues who have paid the supreme price in the course of ensuring the integrity of our dear nation.

”As Nigerians, we will persevere, taking strength from the legacy of service of these 5 gentlemen and those before them. May God continue to bless them and keep our land prosperous and free.

“May I, at this point,assure of our collective commitment to secure Nigeria and the Nigerian people”.

The burial, which was preceded by Christian and Islamic prayers,later ended with the laying of wreaths by the Minister of Defence, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, wives of some married deceased officers and some family members.

The five officers died on January 2, when the NAF helicopter, an Mi-35M Helicopter, which they were flying, crashed in combat while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion, Damasak in Borno State.

The officers sre Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob – Pilot in Command;Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Paul Kilyofas – Co-Pilot, Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim – Flight Technician, Lance Corporal Adamu Nura – Gunner and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael – Gunner.

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