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Greece Mourns Air Force Pilot Marios Touroutsikas

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The coffin of Marios Touroutsikas was draped with the Greek flag. Video screenshot/ERT

Greece is mourning on Thursday the death of Marios Touroutsikas, the co-pilot killed on a fighter jet that crashed in the Ionian Sea, as his funeral was held at the city of Tripoli on Thursday.

The coffin of 29-year-old Lieutenant Marios Touroutsikas was draped with the Greek flag and an Air Force contingent was outside the church. After the service, attendants shouted “Immortal!” as the coffin was transferred for burial to the cemetery.

The service was attended by President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the head of the main opposition Alexis Tsipras, as well as the leadership of the Armed Forces.

On Friday Sakellaropoulou will travel to the northern city of Nevrokopi to attend the funeral of Efstathios Tsitlakidis, the 31-year-old pilot of the jet, whose remains were recovered on Wednesday.

The two airmen lost their lives on Monday as their two-seater F-4E Phantom II fighter jet crashed in the Ionian Sea during a training exercise.

Air Force officials gave no details on the training exercise or how the bodies of the two airmen were discovered, but state-run television reported that the pair had been practicing low-altitude maneuvers.

The exercise was conducted out of Andravida Air Base in the southern Peloponnese region, some 275 kilometers (170 miles) west of Athens. Greece first acquired the US-made F-4, or Phantom fighter jets, in 1974.

Greece in mourning over the death of pilots

Mitsotakis had earlier said that the Hellenic Airforce and the whole of Greece are in mourning.

“The news of the loss of Commander Efstathios Tsitlakides, after that of Vice Commander Marios-Michail Turoutsikas, makes the national grief even heavier. Our fighter pilot fell with his co-pilot in the line of duty, serving the country. My thoughts are with their families. The Air Force and the whole of Greece are mourning. They mourn and honor.”

National Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos announced a three-day period of mourning in the country’s armed forces on Monday.

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