President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday issued a citation in honor of air force fighter pilot Colonel Wang Tung-yi (王同義), who died in a recent crash in France.
The citation was delivered at a memorial service held for the pilot at an airbase in Hsinchu County, where he served as a squadron member.
Ma led Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱), Chief of General Staff General Lin Chen-yi (林鎮夷), Air Force Commanding General Yen Ming (嚴明) and other senior military officers in paying tribute to Wang, who died during a training flight in eastern France on Oct. 3.
The pilot 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 fatal flight to steer the Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft clear of residential communities in Luxeuil-les-Bains to prevent loss of life.
Wang’s wife accepted the citation from Ma at the memorial service.
The pilot was also awarded a medal and promoted to the rank of colonel posthumously at the ceremony, which took place in a hall decorated with a life-size cardboard cutout of Wang in an orange pilot outfit with five Mirage 2000-5 jet fighters flying behind him against a background of the Central Mountain Range.
Wang’s coffin was draped with the national flag in recognition of the contributions he made to the country.
The ceremony concluded with a flyby of four Mirage fighters and a gun salute by eight military police officers.
French Representative to Taiwan Olivier Richard, Hsu Mien-sheng (徐勉生), 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 500m from a cluster of houses, French reports said.
A funeral was held last week for Wang at the French airbase where he was in training.
During the funeral service, he was posthumously awarded a flying medal by the French Air Force. His cremated remains were brought home by his family on Friday.
The cause of the crash is still being investigated.
Wang went to France in 2010 for flight training and was set to complete his two-year program next month.
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 the French.
The air force said on Thursday last week that its Mirage 2000-5s are now back in service, after a suspension following the crash.