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NEWS | April 27, 2023

Air Guard Leaders Visit Fallen Malaysian Officer’s Family

By Joseph Siemandel, Joint Force Headquarters - Washington National Guard

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - While visiting Camp Murray in November 2021, Royal Malaysian Air Force Col. Hasnol Hisham Abu Hassan died after a medical emergency. His sudden death shocked his friends and family, especially his wife, who jumped on a plane and flew to a foreign place to lay her husband to rest.

Showing the true power of the relationships built through the State Partnership Program between Washington and Malaysia, 18 months after the tragedy, Hasnol’s family recently visited his resting place for the first time at House of Mercy, an all-Muslim cemetery near Covington, Washington.

“Our Washington Air National Guard rallied around the family and was able to provide a dignified memorial ceremony for a fellow service member and help comfort a family in need in a completely foreign environment,” said Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, commander of the Washington Air National Guard.

Malaysian Muslim funerals follow specific Islamic rites and are solemn and dignified affairs. The body of the deceased must be treated with honor and reverence and buried as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours of death. The flight back to Malaysia is approximately 20 hours, so the ceremony was performed in Washington state.

“We needed to act, and several members of the Washington Air National Guard team immediately stepped in to assist the Royal Malaysian Air Force team to handle all the necessary arrangements,” said Welsh.

Following the service, the Washington Air National Guard Headquarters put together a memorial frame in honor of Hasnol. It’s now on display at the Washington Air National Guard’s headquarters building and was shown to Hasnol’s family during their recent visit.

“We did that to both honor Colonel Hasnol but also remind everyone that passes through our headquarters that there is something special to our State Partnership Program arrangements,” said Welsh. “We’re partners in the good times and the tough times. This memorial serves as a discussion starter to help our newest team members understand how serious we are about our state partner relationships.”

During the visit, Welsh and headquarters staff met with Hasnol’s wife, their five children, their mother, brother and family friends.

“Over several hours, we were able to catch up with the family and see how well everyone is doing and provide some small measure of healing and closure,” said Welsh. “It was truly heartwarming to see Colonel Hasnol’s entire family and let them know that we care about our responsibilities to always remember Colonel Hasnol.”

 

 

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