John Benon Wokalo, a Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) cadet pilot who died in a chopper crash alongside Maj Naomi Karungi has been laid to rest.
The two were killed after a UPDAF Jet Ranger AF302 went down on Tuesday in Butambala District as they flew back to Entebbe from Mubende District where they had gone for an air force training exercise.
Wokalo, 38, was on Friday buried in Bunambutye village, Busoba Sub County in Mbale District in eastern Uganda.
He is survived by one wife and four children; the youngest being two-year-old.
Wokalo got a three-volley salute as the casket containing his remains was lowered in the grave.
The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Commander Air Forces (D/CAF) Brig Geoffrey Katsigazi Tumusiime, commander of Entebbe Air force wing, Col Fred Kiyingi and the UPDF third division commander, Joseph Balikudembe, among other UPDF officers.
Col Kiyingi said they were “deeply shocked and saddened” by Wokalo’s death which also shattered all his dreams.
He described him as a humble, loyal and hardworking servant calling upon young cadets to emulate him.
“Wokalo was a humble, loyal and hardworking and that’s why the UPDF elevated him to pilot cadet. We have lost both a commander and a brother and he is irreplaceable,” he said.
Brig Balikudembe said Wokalo’s death left a deep gap among his officers who are key in the fight against armed cattle rustlers in Karamoja sub-region.
“Wokalo and Karungi have been key in fighting cattle rustling in Karamoja and the jet we lost has been of utmost importance. As a division, we have lost a lot and we call upon the force for reinforcement,” he said.
Brig Tumusime said Wokalo’s family will get support from the force inform of gratuity and education for the orphans before he appealed to the family to remain strong amid their sorrow.
“As a Force, we are well aware of the challenges that are to be faced by the family and we have taken it with utmost consideration and we promise you of our support.
The family will be given some papers to sign and they will get pension and gratuity because he died in line of duty.
We shall ensure the children study and some of the family members are to be employed in the Force to fill the gap of late wokalo,” he said.
Mr Andrew Wokalo said his brother had been the pillar and breadwinner for the family from the time he got a job in the UPDF.
“We have lost a strong pillar of our family but I’m most saddened because he has left a young family and we call upon all well-wishers and government to support us,” he said.
By Daily Monitor