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The last Thai aviator from World War II has died at the age of 102


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World War II ended 76 years ago, many of us were not even born, but this week the last Thai aviator to actively fight in World War II died at the age of 102.

Thai aviator Choy Lodethanong passed away on Wednesday morning. At the age of 102, the death was considered a natural death. Choy was part of the Royal Thai Air Force, a member of the Wing 5 that fought against Japanese invaders in the war in the middle of the last century. He was a decorated soldier who was part of the brief conflict between Japan and Thailand.

On December 7, 1941, the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii led the United States into World War II. But an hour and a half before that attack (although it was December 8 with the time difference), Japan invaded Thailand in a 5-hour battle at Ao Manao beach in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Hours later, Thailand allied with Japan to invade Burma and declared war on the US and UK the following month.

Choy was 24 years old when that battle took place, and at the time he was among the Thai pilots, local police and civilians fighting to stop the Imperial Japanese troops from landing on Ao Manao beach. To commemorate the 42 people who died during the 5-hour Japanese invasion, The Royal Thai Airforce holds a memorial service on December 8 each year.

The current commander of Wing 5 paid tribute to Thai aviator Choy for his 101st birthday last year and presented him with a birthday present. Following his death, the Royal Thai Air Force contacted Choy’s family to express its condolences. A royal-sponsored cremation ceremony was held today at Wat Sam Roi Yot in Prachuap Khiri Khan after traditional funeral rites took place.

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