Ten Kenyan military officials die in helicopter crash

ELGEYO MARAKWET, KENYA – The Kenyan military community is in mourning following the tragic loss of its defense chief and nine other top-ranking officers in a helicopter crash on Thursday, as confirmed by President William Ruto. The accident, which occurred in a remote part of the country, also left two officers, including the pilot, with injuries.

The devastating crash occurred at 2:20 pm, claiming the life of General Francis Omondi Ogolla, a respected figure in the Kenyan military. President Ruto, who had called an urgent National Security Council meeting following the accident, also confirmed the death of nine other “valiant military personnel” on the helicopter. Two individuals survived the crash.

The Kenya Air Force is currently investigating the cause of the accident, which took place in Elgeyo Marakwet county, approximately 250 miles northwest of Nairobi. The helicopter had just taken off from Chesegon, where General Ogolla and his team had been visiting a local school.

President Ruto praised General Ogolla’s service, stating, “A distinguished four-star general has fallen in the course of duty and in the service of the country. Our motherland has lost one of her most valiant generals, gallant officers, service men and woman.” A three-day mourning period, with flags at half mast, has been declared starting from Friday.

General Ogolla, 61, had left Nairobi on Thursday morning aboard an air force Huey helicopter to visit troops in the North Rift area as part of Operation Maliza Uhalifu (Operation End Crime in Swalihi) and other sites. The Rift Valley region has been plagued by insecurity, with frequent incidents involving armed bandits and cattle rustlers.

General Ogolla, a seasoned fighter pilot and respected military leader, was appointed Chief of the Defence Forces by President Ruto in April of the previous year. His career in the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) began in April 1984, and he held the post of commander of the Kenyan Air Force for three years starting in 2018. He is survived by his wife Aileen, two children, and a grandson.

This is the second time in three years that a helicopter crash has resulted in the death of 10 military officers in Kenya, with a similar incident occurring in June 2021 near Nairobi.