10:27pm on Friday 1st March 2024
It was a moment of utmost pride and glory for the Sri Lanka Air Force when it held the historical first-ever Sunset Commissioning Parade yesterday evening (29 February 2024) of the No. 65 Officer Cadets Intake and No. 17 Lady Officer Cadets Intake, No. 66 Officer Cadets Intake and No. 18 Lady Officer Cadets Intake, the No. 36, 37 and No.38 Kotelawala Defence University Intakes comprising a total of 58 Male Officers and Lady Officers.

On the invitation of the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa, His Excellency the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, took the salute as the Chief Guest at this historical occasion, which was held at the SLAF Academy in China Bay. As the gesture of the commencement of the proceedings, an aerial salute was honoured by two F-7 aircraft to the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, after the arrival to the Saluting Dais.
The day’s proceedings began on a grand note with the Commissioning Parade led by the Commanding Officer of Ground Training Wing, Sri Lanka Air Force Academy China Bay, Group Captain Nirosha Senadeera marching on to the Parade Ground. The parade, which consisted of three Squadrons, nine Flights and the President’s Colour conferred a Ceremonial General Salute to the Chief Guest. Following the salute was the highlight of the day’s agenda, the commissioning of the 58 Officer Cadets and Lady Officer Cadets as Pilot Officers of the Sri Lanka Air Force.

This was the culmination of nearly three years of intensive training and dedications by the Officers who were from different branches, namely Aeronautical and General Engineering, Electronics Engineering,  Operations Air, Regiment, Logistics and Administrative. Having begun initial training at the Combat Training School in Diyatalawa and at the Kotelawala Defence University, these Officers subsequently completed their Service Administration, Academic Studies Module and Specialized Branch modules at the Flying and Ground Training Wings in China Bay and the Combat Training School in Diyatalawa.

At the momentous occasion of the Commissioning of young officers, a flypast containing one MI-17 helicopter, two Bell 412 helicopters, three Y-12 aircraft and three PT-6 Training Aircraft flew above adding more brilliance to the sunset and congratulating the new beginning of the young men and women in the Sri Lanka Air Force.

During the awarding of trophies for special achievements, Pilot Officer SMU Samarakoon from No. 66 Officer Cadet Intake and No. 18 Lady Officer Cadets Intake was awarded the prestigious "Sword of Honour" presented by Group Captain NR Raheem. The sword of honour is awarded to the Officer Cadet who has achieved the highest results in both academic and professional studies and who has shown the best all-round performance throughout the course among all branches.

During the address made by His Excellency the President, reminded the newly commissioned officers of their profound responsibility to safeguard the country's constitution and provide leadership to those under their command. They were urged to uphold the constitution steadfastly, as it directly impacts the stability and security of Sri Lanka. Respect for colleagues and superiors was emphasized, along with the importance of guiding subordinates consistently. The officers were encouraged to embrace leadership roles and face challenges with courage, understanding that fulfilling their duties diligently is imperative for the well-being of the country.

Eventually, newly Commissioned young Officers marched out from the parade square in upholding the ultimate responsibility to face any challenge and serve the motherland with the utmost loyalty, dedication and self-sacrifice. One F-7 aircraft flew over the sky adding much glamour and wishing the young men and women who stepped out from SLAF Academy China Bay a great success and a bright future.

The Commissioning Parade was followed by a first-ever thrilling night time Parachutes Display and the Air Force Ceremonial Band display, together with a Cultural Display by the SLAF members of Performing Arts, adding much glamour to the proceedings.

This prestigious ceremony was also attended by the Governor of the Eastern Province, Hon. Sendil Thondaman, the State Minister of Defence, Hon. Pramitha Bandara Thennakoon, National Security Advisor, Hon. Sagala Rathnayake, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General Kamal Guneratne (Retd), Additional Secretary - Defence, Mr. Harsha Vithanaarachchi, Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, Vice Chancellor KDU, Rear Admiral HGU Dammika Kumara, Chief of Staff of the SLAF and Members of the Air Force Board of Management together with their spouses, a limited number of Senior Military Officers, Other Ranks and the parents of the newly Commissioned Officers.

Special Award Winners

Pilot Officer WJTTS Fernando – Group Captain DS Wickremasinghe Memorial Trophy for best officer cadet in Aeronautical & General Engineering Branch

Pilot Officer WKY Withanage – Group Captain SNH Gunathilake Memorial Trophy for the best officer cadet in Operations Air Branch

Pilot Officer KKAD Jayathilake -  Wing Commander  JE Peiris Memorial Trophy for the best officer cadet in Regiment Branch

Pilot Officer AVBND Nanayakkarawasam – Wing Commander HP Karunarathne Memorial Trophy for the best officer cadet in Logistics Branch

Pilot Officer WMUM Bandara – Flight Lieutenant SVS Fernando Trophy for the best officer cadet in Administrative Branch



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