PAF HELICOPTER CRASH
LINGAYEN— He sent a photo of him while airborne to his wife with a view of “heaven” two hours taken before the Philippine Air Force (PAF) chopper crashed in Tanay, Rizal last May 4.
On hindsight, the wife realized it was like a premonition about his death.
Mildred De Leon, widow of Airman 1st Class (A1C) Joseph de Leon, realized when her husband sent her, as he usually did when he was still alive, a photo on his whereabouts whenever he was on a flying duty.
De Leon, from Lingayen, garbed in his flying uniform, sent his wife a picture of him standing, and “a beautiful view of blue sky and white clouds like heaven.”
“It was as if he was in heaven. If I were to analyze it, it was like he was telling me that he would be gone forever,” Mildred said.
De Leon told Mildred through Facebook Messenger wrote “feelin’ chill” to describe how he felt at that moment. Then he bade her goodbye.
At 4:00 p.m. of May 4, Mildred received news of her husband’s death.
Teary-eyed, Mildred said she did not have any inkling that the photo sent by her husband two hours before the tragedy would be his last.
The UH-1D combat utility helicopter of the PAF crashed at Sitio Hilltop in Tanay, Rizal after a training on disaster response at Camp Capinpin killed De Leon, the pilot and another crew member. Only one survived the crash.
De Leon’s body was brought to his family residence in Barangay Estanza, Lingayen, the following day.
He was buried on May 10 at a public cemetery here.
Mildred, 32, and Joseph, 31 had been married for only three years and but had no child. “We were supposed to work on it to have a baby,” Mildred said.
The couple lived in a house in Taguig, near his workplace in Villamor Air Base. He was part of a helicopter crew.
She said her husband was very kind, very helpful and very loving to his family.
“I will miss him very much… He was, to me a hero of our country, because he died in the line of service“, she said.
De Leon’s casket was closed during the wake. Beside his casket was a big wreath expressing condolence from President Rodrigo Duterte. (Eva Visperas)