French military air base holds funeral for Taiwanese pilot

Staff writer, with CNA, PARIS

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 - Page 3

A solemn funeral for a Taiwanese pilot who died during a training operation last week was held at a French air base in eastern France on Monday.

Lieutenant Colonel Wang Tung-yi (王同義) was honored for his excellent performance and dedication to his mission during the ceremony held at a hangar of Luxeuil Air Base. The event was attended by more than 400 people.

During the service, an official from Taiwan’s representative office in France read a eulogy from ROC Air Force Commanding General Yen Ming (嚴明), according to Michel Lu (呂慶龍), Taiwan’s representative to France, who attended the memorial service.

After Wang’s family and friends paid tribute to the fallen pilot, France’s air force held a military ceremony to salute Wang.

French Air Force Chief of Staff Denis Mercier praised Wang’s performance and his good teamwork with French co-workers.

He said the French Air Force regarded Wang as a family member and was following the practice of giving a flying medal to deceased air force personnel by putting one of the accolades on the rear of Wang’s coffin.

During the military tribute, military officers in attendance saluted Wang’s coffin as it was taken from the hangar and two Mirage fighter jets took off to pay respect to Wang from the air.

Bertrand later presented Wang’s wife with Wang’s personal effects, including his wedding ring, name plate, epaulets, cellphone and watch. He told her that Wang was like their brother and good friend and that she was welcome at the base any time.

Wang’s squadron also presented the deceased pilot’s family with five albums of pictures of Wang during his time at the base.

Wang’s family expressed its heartfelt appreciation for the base’s thoughtfulness.

Wang, 27, died during a training operation on Oct. 3. His Mirage 2000-5 lost contact shortly after taking off from Luxeuil Air Base and crashed in a wooded area about 500m from a group of houses. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

The French Air Force said that in the final moments of flight, Wang made a conscious effort to steer the plane clear of residential communities in the Luxeuil-les-Bains area before crashing.

The pilot was in France on a two-year training mission to develop the skills needed to train other Taiwanese pilots on the Mirage 2000-5 planes in Taiwan’s fleet that were bought in 1992.

Wang arrived in France in 2010 and was set to finish his two-year rotation there next month.