If you can imagine what it is like to be flying during war, to be on an aircraft with 18 others, watching over the skies electronically, directing ‘our’ aircraft towards ‘their’ aircraft – it sounds so much like the adverts for our military.
On 4th May 1999, an aircraft took off from its home airport and started to circle around its capital city – to protect it. We recognised this activity and initiated a sequence of checks which would ensure that it was a legal prosecution, a term which masks the other word, kill. It met those conditions. An aircraft was directed to prosecute the target, the missiles were launched, the ‘kill’ was claimed. The expected euphoria onboard was not evident, a chill came over the crew as they realised that all they had practiced, over many years, had now come to fruition. We landed safely.
The crew were overcome with a wave of confusion, sadness, of what they had done. A pilot defending their city had been shot down. Four years later two RAF pilots were killed by friendly fire over Kuwait, where I was serving, as they returned from their mission over Iraq. Today, as I do every year, I mark the deaths of the Yugoslavian and British aircrew.
Jesus came to show us what it is to bring peace – blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. Whatever our faith, our belief, the universal declaration that we should love one another defies those who say the way forward is to threaten and curse those who don’t agree with them.
War is not, is never, the answer.