Tears, tributes as military buries victims of NAF helicopter crash.
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday said the five Nigerian Air Force personnel who died in a helicopter crash on January 2, at Damasak, Borno State, lost their lives while pursuing Boko Haram terrorists in their vehicles.
The explanation came as tears flowed freely yesterday at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja, as the remains of the late Air Force personnel were buried.
At the emotion-laden event attended by the wives and family members of the deceased officers, the CAS said the military personnel, comprising two pilots and three crew lost their lives in service of their fatherland.
Representatives of President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, were among many others in attendance at the burial site, located along Airport Road, Abuja.
“While we mourn our departed heroes and these courageous Nigerians, we must also be thankful to God that such men lived.
“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,” Abubakar said.
He declared that in spite of the sad development, the Nigerian Air Force, in particular, and the Nigerian military, as a whole, would not relent in the avowed determination to totally annihilate the insurgency and terrorism in the country. He said the military was rather emboldened to go all out for the terrorists.
“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 favorable to our nation.
“To the families of the deceased, I know Nigerians everywhere join me in praying for you as you shoulder this heavy burden of grief,” the CAS said.
The burial, which was preceded by Christian and Islamic prayers, ended with the laying of wreaths by Dan-Ali, Ibas, Abubakar, wives of some married deceased officers and some family members.