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Tragedy Strikes as Kenya’s highest-ranking Military Chief Dies in Helicopter Crash

Kenya's Highest Military Chief Dies in Helicopter Crash
General Francis Omondi Ogolla Credit:AFP

Kenya is in mourning following the tragic death of General Francis Omondi Ogolla, the country’s highest-ranking military officer, in a helicopter crash in the western part of the country.

President William Ruto announced the sad news, revealing that General Ogolla was aboard the helicopter along with 11 other military personnel, of whom only two survived.

President Ruto expressed deep sadness during a news conference, describing it as a “moment of great sadness” for the nation. He promptly convened an urgent security council meeting in response to the incident.

The fatal crash occurred at 14:20 local time, according to President Ruto. The Kenyan Air Force has dispatched an team to investigate the cause of the accident. The helicopter went down in Elgeyo Marakwet county, approximately 400km (250 miles) northwest of Nairobi, shortly after takeoff.

General Ogolla, who was appointed to his position in April of the previous year, had previously served as the commander of the air force and deputy chief of defense forces. President Ruto hailed him as a gallant officer who tragically lost his life in the line of duty.

“Our motherland has lost one of her most valiant generals, gallant officers, service men and women,” said President Ruto in his address to the nation.

In honor of General Ogolla and the other victims, Kenya will observe a three-day period of mourning starting from Friday, with flags flying at half-mast.

General Ogolla’s military career spanned nearly four decades, having joined the Kenya Defence Forces in April 1984. He began as a 2nd lieutenant in the air force and received training as a fighter pilot from the US air force. In 2018, he ascended to the position of air force commander.

The nine military personnel who also lost their lives in the helicopter crash were identified as Brigadier Swale Saidi, Colonel Duncan Keittany, Lieutenant Colonel David Sawe, Major George Benson Magondu, Captain Sora Mohamed, Senior Sergeant John Kinyua Mureithi, Sergeant Cliphonce Omondi, Sergeant Rose Nyawira and Captain Hillary Litali.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, extended condolences to Kenya’s president, government, and people in the wake of the tragic accident.

The two survivors of the crash are currently in critical condition and are receiving medical treatment. The officers were on a mission to Kenya’s North Rift region, which has been plagued by banditry. Their objective was to reopen schools closed due to bandit attacks and to visit military officers deployed to stabilize the region.

This incident is not the first of its kind in Kenya. In June 2021, at least 10 soldiers were killed as a result of their helicopter crashing while landing near the capital, Nairobi.

The loss of General Ogolla and his colleagues is a devastating blow to Kenya’s military and the nation as a whole. Their sacrifices in service to their country will be remembered and honored as Kenya mourns their passing.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.

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