Late Air Force pilot honored with citation at memorial service
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Oct. 15 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou issued a citation Monday in honor of Air Force jet fighter pilot Col. Wang Tung-yi who died in a recent crash in France.
The citation was delivered at a memorial service for Wang at an air base in Hsinchu in northern Taiwan, where he was a squadron member.
President Ma led Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu, Chief of General Staff Gen. Lin Chen-yi, Air Force Commanding General Yen Ming and other senior military officers in paying tribute to Wang, who died during a training flight in eastern France on Oct. 3.
Wang was commended in the citation for his excellent performance and dedication to his mission. The 37-year-old pilot was also cited for his conscious efforts in the final moments of the fateful flight to steer the Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet clear of residential communities in the Luxeuil-les-Bains area to prevent loss of life.
Wang's wife accepted the citation from President Ma at the memorial service.
The pilot was also awarded a medal and promoted to the rank of colonel posthumously at the commemorative ceremony, which took place in a hall decorated with a life-size cardboard cutout featuring Wang in orange pilot outfit with five Mirage 2000-5 jet fighters against a background of Taiwan's Central Mountain Range.
Wang's coffin was draped with the national flag in recognition of his contribution to the country.
The ceremony concluded with a flyby of four Mirage fighters and a gun salute by eight military police officers.
Olivier Richard, France's top representative to Taiwan, Hsu Mien-sheng, director of the Department of European Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and many other government and military officials also attended the ceremony.
Wang's Mirage 2000-5 jet fighter lost contact shortly after takeoff from Luxeuil Air Base on Oct. 3 and crashed into a wooded area some 500 meters from a cluster of houses, according to French reports.
A funeral was held last week for Wang at the French air base in eastern France where he was in training. During the funeral service, the Taiwanese pilot was posthumously awarded a flying medal by the French Air Force. His cremated remains were brought home by his family last Friday.
The cause of the crash is still being investigated and it could take at least six months before a conclusion is reached, according to military officials.
Wang went to France in 2010 for flight training and was set to finish his two-year program there in November.
Taiwan sends a pilot to France biennially to undertake a two-year training program that is part of a 1992 arms deal in which Taiwan bought 60 Mirage 2000-5s from France.
The Air Force said last Thursday that its Mirage 2000-5s are now back in service, after a suspension following the crash in France.
(By Chen Pei-huang and Sofia Wu)
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