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Thai military pilot 'sacrificed his life' for others

Catholic man known to his friends as 'Captain Pete' displayed true courage in his final moments

ucanews.com reporter, Bangkok

ucanews.com reporter, Bangkok

Updated: July 24, 2019 06:52 AM GMT
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Thai military pilot 'sacrificed his life' for others

Francis Xavier Narupol Lertkusol was a squadron leader with the Thai Air Force. He died in an air crash in northern Thailand on July 11. He was 34 years of age. (Photo supplied)

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The Catholic instructor pilot who died while on a training mission in northern Thailand displayed the ultimate self-sacrifice as he faced death, it has emerged.

Francis Xavier Narupol Lertkusol, known to his friends as ‘Captain Pete,’ lost his life when the Air Force training jet he was flying crashed July 11 near the city of Chiang Mai. His co-pilot and student ejected and survived.

Narupol held the rank of squadron leader. He was 34 years of age.

Catholics on July 20 held a prayer vigil for him, led by Father Joseph Anucha Chaiyadej, from Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok.

Father Anucha, also the editor of the Udomsarn magazine, told ucanews.com that ‘Captain Pete’ displayed in his last moments the Catholic virtues instilled in him from childhood.

“After the plane stopped functioning, Captain Pete attempted to move the plane away from the city, then instructed his student to eject from the plane while he continued to steer it away from houses and properties, until it finally crashed,” said Father Anucha.

“Catholics are taught to share what we have, to be moral, to give love and service to others. It sounds like a nice teaching and many may say that it’s out of date and impossible to do.

“But with Pete’s sacrifice, it only shows that goodness never dies. Although Pete has left this earth, his legacy in following in Jesus’ teaching still lives on.”

Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash, the second fatal incident involving a Thai Air Force jet in two years.

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