Former SA Air Force chief Lieutenant General Dennis Earp

Johannesburg - Former chief of South African Air Force Lieutenant General Dennis Earp - a veteran of the Korean war - has passed away at the age of 88.

"It is with great sadness that the South African Air Force (SAAF) has to announce the passing on of retired Lieutenant General Dennis J. Earp SSA, SD, SOE, SM on midnight on Sunday 19 May 2019," said a statement issued by SAAF late Monday.

"Ironically he passes on just after attending both Air Force memorial services at Bays Hill and the Smuts memorial at Smuts House." 

Earp joined the South African Defence Force Military College on the 1 April 1948 after completing his schooling. He started his training in May 1950.

The Korean War broke out on 25 June 1950 and he left for Korea on 24 May 1951. He was shot down on 27 September 1951 and was taken Prisoner of War and was released when hostilities ceased and returned to South Africa on 11 September 1953.

Earp played a key role as a fighter pilot and later a helicopter pilot. 

He served in different roles both as a commander of several flying Squadrons, notably the 2 Squadron, which took part in the Korean War and the Canberra Bomber Squadron including Air Force Base Pietersburg.

He also had numerous roles as Senior Staff Officer responsible for Air Operations at the SAAF HQ, where after he was promoted to the rank of Lt General and appointed Chief of the SA Air Force, a position he held from 1984 to 1988. 

Earp remained a keen aviator throughout his retirement and kept attending all SAAF corporate events such as the Air Force Day Parade and the annual Memorials.

The statement said Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Chief of the South African National Defence Force General Solly Shoke and Chief of the Air Force Lt. General Zimpande Msimang, "all wish to convey their sincerest condolences to both the family and friends of the departed retired general".

A memorial service will be held At AFB Swartkop on Monday 27 May 2019 at 13h00. Funeral arrangements will be communicated once they have been finalised.

African News Agency (ANA)