The army is in mourning after one of Kenya’s most decorated veteran lieutenant generals (retired) Nick Leshan died Friday night at Nairobi’s Aga Khan hospital.
According to the spokesman for the Kenyan defense forces, Bogita Ongeri, Leshan had been admitted to the Aga Khan hospital where he had been under treatment for some time.
“It is true that he died yesterday (Friday) night. Leshan was a shrewd military officer who served his country with dedication, ”Ongeri said.
Leshan’s time in the air force was as long as he was illustrious and he had to overcome many obstacles to reach the point of touching the distance of being the head of the defense forces at the time of his retirement.
When he left the Kenyan Air Force, he was deputy defense forces, replacing Jeremiah Kianga who took over the army in 2005 and eventually retired in 2011.
Leshan found himself faced with the wrong side of the gun in 1982 after being requisitioned by Hezekiah Ochuka and Pancras Oteyo Okumu, the masterminds of the August 1 coup.
At the time, Leshan was the major in air travel, and the coup leaders ordered him to take them to Tanzania on a Buffalo plane. The coup leaders’ hopes of taking refuge in Tanzania were short lived for the then president, Julius Nyerere refused to assist them, but instead had them deported to Kenya.
Upon their return to Nairobi, the two, like other rebel aviators, were subjected to court martial and sentenced to hang. They were among the last Kenyan prisoners to be hanged in the Kamiti maximum security prison.
Meanwhile, Leshan had a hard time convincing her bosses that she was a victim who had been forced out of the country. At one time, just like all soldiers suspected of playing a role in the coup, he was treated as a suspect, but after screening and scrutiny, he was cleared to rejoin the Air Force.
When the military designed a book, The history of the Kenyan Air Force: 1964-2014, Leshan shared some of his experiences and the struggles he and his colleagues had to go through to regain the trust and dignity of their unit that had been mongrelized as a result of the failed coup.
After the coup, Leshan explains in the book that: “It took many hours of conversation and training for the officers to feel safe again,” adding, “I wanted them to understand that the country depended on them to make the decisions. right and no one could do it if they felt as if they were the last … “
This was in response to attempts to demolish the air force and create new clothing that some people in the government wanted to be treated as inferior to other means such as the army and navy.
He argues in the book: “… don’t destroy an institution because some people have done the wrong thing. It does not turn him into a pariah within the family of the defense forces, as happened then ».
By the time he left the army, his beloved air force had regained the confidence and dignity to the point that he could trust his leaders to lead the entire defense forces and defend their country from outside aggressors.
Leshan defied the coup, the conspirators became the second most powerful man in the army in his day and will be remembered for saving Kenya in its darkest times in 1982 by being loyal to its commander in chief.
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