The Armed Forces Command and Staff Collage (AFCSC), Jaji, on Monday commemorated 165 students of the college who lost their lives in a plane crash 30 years ago.
The students died on Sep 26, 1992, when their Nigerian Air Force C-130 plane crashed in Ejigbo Area of Lagos State.
The commemoration witnessed the laying of wreath, prayers and release of pigeons.
In his remarks, the Commandant of the college, AVM Olurotimi Tuwase, said the deceased would never be forgotten by the college and the nation.
“On this day, exactly 30 years ago at about 17:45 hours, the C-130 aircraft with tail number NAF 911 crashed some few minutes after take-off in the swampy area of Ejigbo, some few kilometres from Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, killing all 165 persons on board.
“The persons on board included seven Directing Staff, 140 students of Senior Course 15 and three support staff of AFCSC returning from a tour of naval formations in Lagos as well as the aircraft crew and few other persons traveling from Lagos to Kaduna.
“The unfortunate incident brought to an abrupt end the lives of some promising officers with very bright futures in the armed forces of Nigeria and some allied nations,” Tuwase said.
He added that the loss was not only for their families, but also the Armed Forces and Nigeria, which lost a generation of middle level officers.
“It was in service to the nation that these noble officers and men that we remember today left the comforts of their homes and units after been posted to serve in the college as well as been nominated to attend Senior Course 15.
“It was in the quest for knowledge to become better commanders and staff officers that they embarked on the tour of naval formations in Lagos, after which the unfortunate incident occurred,” the commandant said.
He said that the world would continue to remember the price they paid.
“The entire AFCSC community still mourns the loss of these fine officers and men and their demise will forever remain engraved in our hearts.
“To afford the families of the victims a place to visit and remember their loved ones, the college erected a befitting cenotaph,” he said.
Tuwase said the cenotaph has been etched with the names of each of those onboard the ill-fated flight.
He added that a road within the senior course quarters has been appropriately named ‘September 26 Close’.
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The commandant assured that the college would continue to create time every year to organize the memorial ceremony to pay tribute to them.
“The families, loved ones and relatives of the victims, we acknowledge that words cannot fill the void created by the death of your husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters and uncles.
“We know most of these fine officers and men who died in that crash were the bread winners and pillars of their families who had so much hope in them.
“The college and the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria grieve with you and will continue to remember the sacrifice made by your departed loved ones on that day.
“My prayer for you today is that God will continue to comfort you and give you the strength and fortitude to bear the loss,” he added.
The commandant used the event to implore students and directing staff to be dedicated and strive for the best, in order to realise the objectives for which the college was established.
“It is only in doing this that we sincerely honour those who we remember today.
“May the souls of those who died in the NAF C-130 plane crash and all others who have died while serving and on course in AFCSC rest in peace,” Atuwase said.
A representative of the windows, Mrs Hadiza Pidar, prayed for the deceased, and thanked God for keeping them strong over the years and the AFCSC for holding the commemoration annually.
Also, a son of one of the deceased, Maj. Hamza Jibril, thanked the college for honouring them, saying it has given them and their families a sense of belonging.
Jibril, who is a student in the college, added that the annual event remained indelible and reassuring that the lives of every officer and soldier matters.(NAN)