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June 27, 2017

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Pilot's ashes brought home from France

The ashes of a Taiwanese pilot who was killed in an Air Force plane crash in France last week were yesterday brought back to the country by his family.

Lt. Col. Wang Tung-yi's (王同義) brother carried an urn containing the pilot's ashes off a plane at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport around 6 a.m. Other returning family members included Wang's wife, newborn daughter and mother.

Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) and Air Force Commanding General Yen Ming (嚴明) were among a group of the nation's top defense officials waiting at the airport to pay tribute to the return of Wang's ashes and to express condolences to the pilot's family.

The family later carried the urn and boarded a hearse to Hsinchu Air Base, where Wang was a squadron member.

The pilot's remains will be kept at the air base until a memorial service to be held Oct. 15 in which Wang will be honored with a presidential citation and a medal for his excellence and dedication. President Ma Ying-jeou is reportedly scheduled to attend the service.

Earlier this week, a funeral was held for Wang at an air base in eastern France where he was receiving training. During the service, the Taiwanese pilot was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal by the French Air Force.

Thirty-seven-year-old Wang died during a training operation on Oct. 3 in eastern France. His Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet lost contact shortly after takeoff from Luxeuil Air Base and crashed into a wooded area some 500 meters from a cluster of houses, according to French reports.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated. A report compiled from initial investigations will be released in six months but a full report could take much longer, according to Taiwan's military.

The French Air Force said that in the final moments of the flight, Wang made a conscious effort to steer the jet clear of residential communities in the Luxeuil-les-Bains area to prevent loss of life.

Wang moved to France in 2010 for flight training and was set to finish his two-year program there in November.

Taiwan sends a pilot to France biennially to undertake a two-year training program that is part of a 1992 arms deal in which Taiwan bought 60 Mirage 2000-5s from France.

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