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Kenya’s President William Ruto confirms death of military chief in chopper crash

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 18 April 2024 at 05:34

Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), General Francis Ogolla, died in a chopper crash at Kaben in Marakwet East on Thursday aged 61, President William Ruto has confirmed.

President Ruto, in a press statement on Thursday night said, Ogolla was among nine people killed in the crash that occurred at around 2:20 pm. There were two survivors in the crash.

“I am deeply saddened to announce the passing on of General Francis Omondi Ogolla, the Chief of Kenya Defence Forces,” President Ruto said.

“The Chief of Defence Forces onboard the Kenya Airforce helicopter had left Nairobi in the morning to visit troops deployed in the North Rift under the operation Malisha Uhalifu and to also inspect the ongoing school renovation works in the region,” he added.

The chopper crashed before bursting into flames, killing Ogolla and the eight military personnel shortly after takeoff from Chesegon in West Pokot for the Recruits Training School in Uasin Gishu County, where he was scheduled to inspect ongoing construction works.

“This is a very sad moment for me as the commander in chief of defence forces. It’s a tragic moment for the KDF fraternity and it’s a most unfortunate day for the nation at large,” President Ruto stated.

He said a team of investigative officers from the Kenya Air Force has been dispatched to probe the cause of crash, even as he announced a three day of national mourning in honour of the fallen General.

Other soldiers who perished in the crash include Brigadier Swale Saidi, Colonel Duncan Keittany, Lieutenant Colonel David Sawe, Major George Benson Magondu (Pilot), Captain Sora Mohamed, Captain Hillary Litali, Senior Sergeant John Kinyua Mureithi, Sergeant Cliphonce Omondi, and Sergeant Rose Nyawira.

“I convey my deepest condolences to all families that are grieving this untimely loss, and our mourning nation as well. I also wish quick recovery to the two injured soldiers in this accident who are now in accident,” stated the President.

Gen. Ogolla’s death comes nearly a year after he was sworn in as Kenya’s military boss on April 29, 2023.

He took over the CDF mantle from Gen. Robert Kibochi whose term ended after 44 years in the military.

Prior to assuming the CDF role, Ogolla served as the Commander of the Air Force and Vice Chief of Defence Forces.

Gen. Ogolla joined the Kenya Defence Forces on April 24, 1984. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant on 6 May 1985 and posted to Kenya Air Force.

He trained as a fighter pilot with United States Air Force (USAF) and as an instructor pilot at the Kenya Air Force (KAF).

The late military boss also trained in other fields including imagery intelligence, counter terrorism and accident investigation.

He rose through the ranks to become a Major General and was appointed as the Commander of the Kenya Air Force on July 15, 2018, a post he held for three years before former President Uhuru Kenyatta promoted him to the rank of Lieutenant General and appointed him as the Vice Chief of Defence Forces.

Previously, he held various appointments in Training, Command and Staff including Deputy Commander Kenya Air Force, Base Commander Laikipia Air Base, Commanding Officer of Tactical Fighter Wing, Chief Flying Instructor at Kenya Air Force Flying Training School and Operations Desk Officer at Kenya Air Force Headquarters.

He also served in the former Yugoslavia as an Observer and Military Information Officer from 1992 to 1993, as chairman of Military Christian Fellowship from 1994 to 2004 and co-Chair of Association of African Air Chiefs between 2018-2019.

The late army General is survived by his wife Aileen, two children and a grandson.

Kenya's Chief of Defence Forces General Francis Ogolla dies in chopper crash

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