President conveys air force squad's condolences to late general

01/04/2020 10:04 PM
Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office
Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office

Taipei, Jan. 4 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) conveyed condolences on behalf of an air force squadron based in eastern Taiwan at a memorial service held in Taipei for the late chief of the general staff, Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), who died in a helicopter crash two days earlier.

Tsai visited the squadron at a radar station in a mountainous area of Dong'ao in Yilan County for an inspection that Shen was traveling to when his chopper crashed.

Shen was among eight confirmed fatalities Thursday when the military chopper crashed in a mountainous area of New Taipei. A total of 13 people were on board, five of whom survived the crash.

The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Wulai District en route to the military base in Dong'ao as part of a pre-Lunar New Year inspection.

Tsai visited the radar station accompanied by National Security Council Secretary-General David Lee (李大維), Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發), and Minister of the Veterans Affairs Council Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬).

The president said the visit took place to complete Shen's unfinished journey for him.

Squadron officers at the radar station wrote down their condolences over Shen's death on post-it notes and asked the president to bring the messages to the late military officer's memorial service at the Taipei Guest House.

"We are grateful to the chief of the general staff for his contributions to the country and his accomplishments on behalf of the country," one squadron officer said in his note.

"We are proud of you," read another.

"We will remember you forever as a form of gratitude for your hard work for the country," another read.

During her visit to the radar station, Tsai said she was grateful to the military as all of the officers who continued their work to safeguard the country despite the crash.

"The incident cannot knock us down," Tsai said. "We are not afraid of any challenges and that's the spirit of the air force and we will become stronger."

Shortly after Thursday's crash, Tsai announced that Shen had been posthumously promoted from a three-star general to a four-star general, the first such promotion since 2009.

The Ministry of National Defense also said Shen has been awarded the National Emblem Medal for his contributions to the country.

The seven other confirmed fatalities in the crash were Political Warfare Bureau Deputy Director Maj. Gen. Yu Chin-wen (于親文), Maj. Gen. Hung Hung-chun (洪鴻鈞) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff for Intelligence, Maj. Huang Sheng-hang (黃聖航) of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, Chief Master Sergeant Han Cheng-hung (韓正宏), chopper pilot Lt. Col. Yeh Chien-yi (葉建儀), co-pilot Capt. Liu Chen-fu (劉鎮富), and Crew Chief Master Sergeant Hsu Hung-pin (許鴻彬).

Some of the post-it messages brought by Tsai to the memorial service also bore condolence messages for Han.

In addition to Tsai, other government officials and representatives of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also visited the memorial service, including Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) and her deputy Liu Chien-hsin (劉建忻), Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) and DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰).

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Yu Hsiang and Frances Huang)

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