Arizona Airmen memorialize fallen Iraqi fighter pilot
By 2nd Lt. Lacey Roberts, 162nd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 16, 2015
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Members of the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing honored the life and memory of Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Rasid Mohammed Sideeq Hasan during a memorial service here July 7.
Hasan died June 24 after his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed near Douglas, Arizona, during a night training mission. He trained with Air Guard members at Tucson International Airport since 2010.
"General Hasan devoted 25 years of service to his country," said Col. Phil Purcell, commander of the 162nd Wing. "We have lost one of our own and we grieve with his family and countrymen."
During the service each speaker expressed the significance of the sacrifices and dedication to service that he made in his quest to become an F-16 pilot.
Every fighter pilot works hard to acquire the skills necessary to employ an F-16, but he did it worlds away from his home, his wife and his children, said Purcell.
Among those in attendance were other Iraqi student pilots.
"General Hasan was our brother and leader," said one Iraqi pilot. "He made sacrifices for us during his time with us. By his outstanding example, he gave us strength and inspiration. He was dedicated to the Iraqi pilot training program here and each of the fighter pilots training with him."
As he contemplated the idea of one day returning home, he wanted to stay in Tucson for his fellow airmen, said Lt. Col. Brant Putnam, commander of the 152nd Fighter Squadron, speaking of his last conversation with Hasan.
Putnam assured each Iraqi pilot that the 162nd Wing would continue to take care of them. He also challenged them to help fulfill Hasan's vision for Iraqi fighter pilots.
"Hasan said that his wish was for Iraqi pilots to be focused and work together in Tucson, so they could fly and fight as one cohesive unit," said Putnam. "In so doing, you will become the fighting force your country sent you here to become; and the best part of all is that you will grant General Hasan his wish."
Hasan will eternally be remembered at the 162nd for giving the ultimate sacrifice. His name was engraved on the wing's granite memorial wall for all to see and pay tribute.
Iraqi pilots here said their final farewell to their wingman on July 11, when Hasan was transported home for his final resting.
"We take great pride in knowing the man and his commitment to family and countrymen. May he rest in peace," said Purcell.