Sri Lanka’s new air chief follows in father’s flight path

June 12, 2006 (AFP) – Air Vice Marshal Roshan Goonetileke took command of Sri Lanka’s air force Monday, 25 years after his father retired from the post. Goonetileke, 50, inspected an honour guard before being handed the command at a ceremony in Colombo.

Among those attending was Goonetileke’s father, retired air vice marshal Harry Goonetileke, 76, who was the head of the air force from 1976 to 1981.

“It is a great day,” said the retired air chief.

“But it is also a day filled with joy and sorrow. Joy because my son took over the command of the air force I had commanded 25 years ago and sad because my second son is not here to see this.”

Goonetileke’s second son Shirantha, who was also an air force officer, was killed when an Avro fixed-wing aircraft he piloted was shot down by Tamil Tiger rebels in April 1995. Both father and son started their careers in the air force as cadets and ended up as commanders.