Helicopter Accident Kills Defence Forces Chief of Kenya, 9 Others
19 April 2024
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Nairobi, Kenya – By A Correspondent | A devastating helicopter crash in Elgeyo Marakwet County has resulted in the death of General Francis Omondi Ogolla, the Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, President William Ruto announced today. The accident occurred shortly after 2:20 PM when the helicopter, carrying Ogolla and other military personnel, went down shortly after takeoff from the village of Chesegon.

President Ruto, visibly saddened during a press conference, stated, “Our nation mourns as we announce the tragic passing of General Ogolla and nine other gallant military personnel. This is a great loss to our country.” Two other service members survived the crash, and an investigation team from the Kenya Air Force has been dispatched to determine the cause of the incident.

General Ogolla, aged 61, was a distinguished four-star general and a trained fighter pilot who had been in his post for just over a year. His helicopter, a Bell UH-1B “Huey” — a model first developed in the 1950s — was returning from a routine visit where General Ogolla had been inspecting troops and other military installations in the North Rift region.

The president has declared three days of national mourning starting Friday, with flags to be flown at half-mast. The bodies of the victims, draped in the national flag, were transported back to Nairobi on an air force plane late Thursday, as confirmed by images shared by the presidency.

This tragedy marks the fifth military helicopter crash within the past 12 months, raising concerns over the age and maintenance of these aircraft. Kenyan media have highlighted the recurring issues, suggesting a pattern that points to the need for a thorough review of military equipment and protocols.

The late General was appointed by President Ruto last April, following a notable career in the Kenyan military that began in April 1984. His tenure included commanding the Kenyan Air Force and serving as deputy CDF before his last appointment.

Tributes have poured in from across the nation and the region, with former President Uhuru Kenyatta expressing his condolences, describing Ogolla as “an accomplished military leader and a devoted patriot.” IGAD Secretary-General Workneh Gebeyehu also extended his sympathies, noting the regional impact of the loss.

President Ruto concluded his remarks by emphasizing General Ogolla’s dedication and service, stating, “A distinguished four-star general has fallen in the course of duty. Our motherland has lost one of her most valiant generals, gallant officers, service men and women. We shall remember them.” The nation now enters a period of mourning as investigations continue into the circumstances surrounding this tragic event.