President Gül orders recovery of 1996 crash pilot remains

President Gül orders recovery of 1996 crash pilot remains

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
President Gül orders recovery of 1996 crash pilot remains

Hürriyet photo

President Abdullah Gül has given orders to recover the remains of an F-16 jet pilot, whose body has been in the waters of the Aegean for 16 years, since his aircraft was shot down in a dogfight with Greek fighter jets.

Gül’s move comes shortly after research boat Nautilus was able to locate the wreckage of a Turkish reconnaissance jet believed to have been downed by Syria. Along with the wreckage Nautilus located and recovered the bodies of the two reconnaissance pilots last week. This has given new hope to the family of F-16 pilot Capt. Nail Erdoğan, whose plane crashed over the Aegean on Oct. 8, 1996.

His daughter, Evrim Erdoğan, 23, said she hoped her father’s body could be found. “Nautilus was able to pull the bodies of our two pilots from the Mediterranean. It should also find the remains of my father, who became a martyr 16 years ago.”

After Evrim Erdoğan’s call for help was published in newspapers, President Abdullah Gül ordered the General Staff to recover the remains of Capt. Erdoğan, located 400 meters under the sea a few miles off the coast of the island of Samos, daily Hürriyet reported. Evrim Erdoğan said she was filled with joy upon this order. “I am floating on the air from joy ... I hope our joy and excitement will not result in disappointment. I hope they can reach my father, who is sleeping in an iron cage 400 meters deep. We would like to thank our esteemed president for his interest,” Evrim Erdoğan said.

Tufan Turanlı, the Turkish captain of the world-renowned vessel Nautilus, which is assisting with the removal of the pilots’ bodies from the jet downed over the Mediterranean by Syria last month, stated that the team is now ready to remove Erdoğan’s body from the jet. Erdoğan’s daughter Evrim Erdoğan personally requested that her father’s corpse be removed, Turanlı said.

“I said before that we would do our best. All the citizens and soldiers of Turkey have equal value to us. Today, I was filled with joy when I saw our president’s order in the newspapers. It is a sacred thing for me to carry out Evrim’s request. I am ready for duty. We will definitely go. If the government authorities ask us, we are ready to do our best,” Turanlı said.