Funeral of F-4 co-pilot held in Tripoli

Funeral of F-4 co-pilot held in Tripoli

The funeral of a Hellenic Air Force officer aboard the two-seater F-4E Phantom II fighter jet that crashed in the Ionian Sea on Monday was held at the Peloponnesian city of Tripoli on Thursday.

The plane crashed in the sea during a training exercise Monday and the body of the co-pilot, 29-year-old Lieutenant Marios Touroutsikas, was located shortly afterward. Air Force rescuers recovered the body of the second airman, Efstathios Tsitlakidis, on Wednesday.

The funeral service for Touroutsikas was held at the Profitis Ilias Church while he will be laid to rest at the Agios Ioannis Pikerniou cemetery later that day.

The coffin was draped with the Greek flag and an Air Force contingent was outside the church. After the service, attendants shouted “Immortal!” as the coffin was transferred for burial to the cemetery. 

The service was attended by President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the head of the main opposition Alexis Tsipras, as well as the leadership of the Armed Forces.

On Friday Sakellaropoulou will travel to the northern city of Nevrokopi to attend the funeral of  Tsitlakidis, the F-4 captain.

Air Force officials gave no details on the training exercise or how the bodies of the two airmen were discovered, but state-run television reported that the pair had been practicing low altitude maneuvers.

The exercise was conducted out of Andravida Air Base in the southern Peloponnese region, some 275 kilometers (170 miles) west of Athens. Greece first acquired the US-made F-4, or Phantom fighter jets, in 1974.

[Kathimerini, Reuters]

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