Deceased pilot willing to die for nation, says friend

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GEORGE TOWN: The late air force pilot Major Kayamboo Chellam had said he would die for the country, vowing to fight tooth and nail for the security of the nation, a close friend recalled him as saying.

His childhood friend, R Nathan, said the late Kayamboo was a patriot and had often spoken about the greatness of the country’s military.

“He once told me ‘I would die for the country as long as I am in the air force’.

“He also vowed to serve the military even past his retirement, which was slated for next year,” Nathan, 43, said when met at his wake in Sungai Nibong here today.

Officers in the armed forces who are of a certain rank have the option to retire early after reaching age 45.

Kayamboo, who just turned 45 yesterday, died after the turboprop plane he was commandeering crashed near the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Butterworth yesterday.

Kayamboo is survived by his wife S Usha, 42, two daughters and two sons, aged between two and 13. Usha is a nurse at a government clinic here.

Kayamboo was attached to the Air Force Training College in Alor Star, Kedah.

In the 5.18pm incident, Kayamboo and three others were on a training mission from Subang, Selangor, to Butterworth. They were supposed to make a return to the Subang air base after completing their trip.

The three others on board the aircraft miraculously survived the incident, but were seriously injured and are now receiving treatment at the Penang Hospital.

The defence ministry said an investigation into the cause of the crash was currently under way.

Meanwhile, Nathan said Kayamboo had aspired to be a pilot since he was young.

He said ever since they were best friends when they were neighbours in Jelutong, Penang, Kayamboo had often expressed his fascination for airplanes.

“Kayamboo was always at the aircraft section of the bookshop, while I was fixated on engineering books,” Nathan said.

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