At a meeting held to commemorate the 37th Defence Day of Pakistan, members of the Conscience group cited the contributions of six Christian officers of the Pakistan Air Force in preserving the Territorial sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan.
A special paper, based on an article appearing in the respected Defense Journal, was read out on the occasion. "The ffeats o our magnificent flying heroes--Eric Hall, Nazir Latif, Mervyn Middlecoat, Cecil Chaudhry, William Harney, Peter Christy--can never be forgotten," said Solomon Chiragh, secretary of Conscience.
"They stood by their Muuslim compatriots and defende the motherland against aggression," Chiragh said. Many Christians have served the Pakistan Air Force, formerly the Royal Air Force, with distinction and their exploits are well documented in the archives of the PAF Museum in Karachi.
According to a Conscience member, three illustrious officers among them held the rank of air vice marshal. "Eric Hall, Steve Joseph and M.J. O'Brien rose to the position of air vice marshal within the PAF," Edgar Irfan remarked in his Tribute to the Christian defenders of Pakistan's frontiers. "O'Brien is the only PAF officer to serve as the commandant of the National Defense College," said Irfan, quoting from documents obtained from the PAF.
"Pakistani aviators recognize the efforts of Eric Hall To train and build the Air Force," Chiragh told a small audience in Karachi.
"Not only did Hall rise to the position of the Air Vice Marshal but he also commanded a number of PAF Bases," he observed.
Nazir Latif, who served as an air commodore, led a successful bombing mission over Ambala, India, in the 1965 war. Six years later, Latif found himself in the thick of battle once again.
According to the Defence Journal, Latif flew numerous daring bombing missions in December 1971. He also commanded three different fighter and bomber wings and two bases.
Wing Commander Mervyn Middlecoat and Squadron Leader Peter Christy were killed in the early days of the 1971 war. Both men were part of a Pakistani strike force that flew over India's Jamnagar airfield.
Another Christian squadron leader W.D. Harney flew 14 bombing missions, some of which covered the Indian strongholds of Adampur, Halwara, Jodhpur, Pathankot and Ambala. "Harney excelled in each of those missions," Irfan said.
Conscience joined the Defence Journal in paying tribute to the ace pilots of yesteryear Edwin Nazirullah, Steve Joseph, James Jebb, Patrick Callaghan, Stephen Israel, M.J. O'Brain, Springett and Game. Leslie deCruz was cited for his superior navigation skills along with top air gunner Alfred Jagivan and Armament Officer Marston. Another two officers John Carrapiett and Saleem Gohar won praise for their bravery during two of the country's three wars against
Members of Conscience say they are trying to inculcate a sense of achievement among Pakistani Christians and bring into sharper focus their contribution to Pakistan. "The myth that Christians or minorities haven't done enough for their country must be shattered. They must show the majority community and themselves what sacrifices they have made for the country," Conscience said in a statement. "We think the Christian minority must develop a sense of self-worth and then, perhaps, they can begin to make a difference," the group said.