x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 October 2017

UAE leaders describe their pride at sacrifice of helicopter crew

Country's leaders meet with relatives at their homes across the emirates

The country's leaders met with the grieving relatives of four Emirati servicemen who died when their helicopter crash landed in Yemen, praising a bravery and dedication that will "remain indelible in the memory of the nation".

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was among the leaders that spent yesterday with the parents and children of the fallen pilots and soldiers.

The four dead were Captain Ahmed Khalifa Al Baloushi, from Al Ain; First Lieutenant Pilot Jassem Saleh Al Zaabi, from Ras Al Khaimah; Warrant Officer Mohammed Saeed Al Hassani, from Fujairah; and Warrant Officer Sameer Mohammed Murad Abu Bakr, from Ajman.

"We take pride in our intrepid martyrs who come at the forefront of our nation on account of the heroic sacrifices they made for their country," Sheikh Mohamed said, according to state news agency Wam.

"Their deeds will remain an eternal testament to their deeply-rooted values of giving and loyalty to our gracious soil which they inherited from their forefathers."

Three servicemen injured in the crash are being treated in hospital.

They are Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the grandson of Sheikh Zayed, the country's first president, and Rashid Al Dhahouri and Rashed Al Baloushi.

At the home of Captain Al Baloushi, 27, yesterday, his mother told The National that the family are saddened but proud in equal measure.

“It is difficult for each mother to lose her son, but he made me proud and raised my head. My grief is soothed by his martyrdom,” said Nora Sughaiar Mohammed.

“I proudly say he is a martyr and did his duty towards the country. I am sad for losing him, but I pray for him to be in Heaven."

Al Baloushi was serving in Yemen as part of the Arab Coalition's Operation Restoring Hope, which seeks to reinstate the internationally-recognised Yemeni government and push back Houthi militiamen that seized key areas of the country last year.

Ms Mohammed said she last heard from her son three days before the crash.

In a WhatsApp message, he asked that his family always remember him at his best, should he not make it home.

“I truly apologise for every person I hurt without knowing," he wrote.

"I request everyone I know to forgive me if I done something wrong or made any tactless remarks.

“I am performing a national service to serve my country. For anyone who wants to talk to me. I am always available. I bid you farewell, trusting in God to protect you and protect my country."

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Read more:

Prayers for the swift recovery of Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan and other soldiers injured in Yemen helicopter crash

Funerals for four UAE soldiers killed in Yemen helicopter crash held

UAE soldiers’ sacrifice will not be forgotten

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His mother told him that he would soon start a family.

“I told him that I am looking for a wife for him. But he told me that he asks God for martyrdom," she said.

Alia Al Baloushi, 24, his sister, spoke of her brother with pride.

"He was a fearless man who brought joy to the house. He was affectionate and compassionate brother,” she said.

"His birthday is during this month. He was turning 28-year-old this month.

“My brother graduated from his school and joined the forces. It was his dream to become a military man, just like his father,” said Ms Al Baloushi.

“He was adventurous. He joined shooting clubs, car racing and learned how to scuba dive,” she said.

"He brought joy whenever he was at home He planned many trips for his sisters and was very attached to my mother.”

At another armed forces home, that of Warrant Officer Mohammed Saeed Al Hassani, in Fujairah, there was also sadness and pride.

“My father meant everything to me," said his daughter Mariam 11.

"He used to tell me that education is the most powerful weapon.”

"My mother told me and my brothers and sisters that my father is martyr and he will be in heaven.

“We pray for him to be in heaven and will do our best to remain strong."