Subject: AU: Crash pilot flew fighters over Timor

The Australian

Crash pilot flew fighters over Timor

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Jakarta correspondent | September 19, 2007

PHUKET crash pilot Arief Mulyadi, who was buried in Jakarta yesterday, flew jet fighters during Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in a decisive moment in the brutal suppression of the Fretilin resistance.

After graduating from military college in 1974, Lieutenant Colonel Mulyadi was sent to the former Portuguese colony in 1977 with a squadron of attack and surveillance AV-10 Bronco jets, family and friends revealed yesterday.

For two years after the December 1975 invasion by Indonesian navy and air force, known as Operation Seroja (Lotus), there had been a spirited armed opposition, often operating from dense bushland.

However Mulyadi's Broncos - specialist counter-insurgency craft bought from the US especially for the purpose - bombed vast amounts of bush and cropland, as well as dropping leaflets on large parts of the countryside urging surrender.

It was an action that helped to turn the battle Indonesia's way by 1978.

During yesterday's service, chief eulogist Air Vice Marshal Eko Edi Santoso remembered Mulyadi as dedicated and disciplined.

"He was my best friend," a tearful Air Vice Marshal Santoso, one of the Indonesian military's most senior figures, told the small gathering of mostly friends and family, with a few serving personnel scattered among the mourners.

Mulyadi's son, Agung Bayu Hanggono, 29, revealed that his father had requested permission on Sunday to return to Bangkok on approach to the Phuket runway, because of the atrocious weather.

Mr Agung, who said he had been told this by sources within budget airline One-Two-Go, also revealed there was a possibility his father had tried to help other passengers before collapsing.

Mulyadi, who went on to captain Jakarta-based Hercules transport planes before becoming a flight instructor and then leaving the military in 1993 for life as a commercial pilot, lived in the Thai capital with his wife, Lies Farikha.

He had planned to retire to Jakarta next year to spend more time with his two grandchildren.

Mr Agung said his last communication with his father, who died in hospital, was on Saturday by SMS.

"His last message was to look after my children - his grandchildren," he said.

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