October 8 ,2016
Toronto – Ethiopians in the US made their emotional farewell to Ethiopian hero General Tefera Legese this morning. Ceremony was decorated with military march music and presence of former members of the armed forces.
His body is flying to Ethiopia where he will be buried.
General Tefera Legese was recipient of Ethiopia’s highest order of medal for bravery.
Following the fall of Imperial government of Ethiopia and emperor Haile Selassie, Ethiopia was in a transitional period under military government and the period was marked by turmoil. Instead of hope, the transition brought fears and internal and external challenges.
Internally, power of the transitional government was being challenged by socialist oriented clandestine political organizations with urban based guerrilla movement; which ushered into a period of terror which goes down in Ethiopian history as red terror.Eritrean based rebel forces were also fighting for secession.
Externally, Somalia, then well organized with over 500,000 armed forces, wanted to exploit internal turmoil in Ethiopia. It launched invasion with a vision to take away the Somali areas of Ethiopia. Not long after it launched its invasion, most parts of South Eastern Ethiopia came under the control of Somali invading army.
The military government planned offensive to repulse Somalian invasion and the Ethiopian Air Force was crucial part of the military plan.
General Tefera Legese shot down five Somalian fighter jets in air-by-air fight with the then Somalian air force. There after his jet was shot and had to parachute. he was then taken as prisoner of war and stayed in Somalia for eleven years. During an exchange of war prisoners towards the end of the military government, Tefera Legese was released and returned to Ethiopia. Ethiopia was happy and honored him for his bravery.
After the fall of the military government, Tefera Legese was exiled to the United States where he lived until his death.
Ethiopian Satellite Television reported that he battled Alzheimer for more than three years. A few years ago, Popular talk show host Tamagne Beyene organized Ethiopians in the United States and celebrated General Tefera Legese’s service to Ethiopia and his bravery.
General Tefera Legese is survived by his daughters Nestanet Legesse and Lulit Legesse.