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 Post subject: Remembering Air Commodore (Retd) Nazir Latif, Sitara-i-Jurat
PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:03 pm 
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Remembering Air Commodore (Retd) Nazir Latif
July 17, 2011

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Air Commodore (Retd) Nazir Latif, Sitara-i-Jurat

On June 30, Air Commodore (retd.) Nazir Latif, the kind and gracious man who had served his country proudly in both wars (1965-1971) as an ace bomber (earning a Sitara-i-Jurat along the way) passed away in the Pakistan Air Force Hospital in Islamabad. He had been rushed to the hospital after suffering a heart attack and collapsing outside his room in the PAF Officers Mess, where he had been living for the past few months. He was well into his 80s and months earlier had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. But the heart attack was sudden and unforeseen. A day later he was buried with full military honours by the Pakistan Air Force.

Bill Latif (as his friends called him) had been living alone in Islamabad for several years now. He had originally planned to retire in Rawalpindi, his hometown. Bill Latif was born in a highly educated Christian family in 1927 and grew up in Rawalpindi, where his father was a well-known professor of psychology. He had always had a craze to be a pilot and joined the air force soon after partition. “Those were wonderful days of flying and a carefree life”, he would recall.

The Pakistan Air Force was, at the time, one of the best in the world and Bill Latif was an outstanding pilot.

He eventually ended up commanding an entire bomber squad and fought with valour in both the wars with India. He was chased out of the air force in 1972 by the incumbent chief, and moved to Jordan, where he was to spend 18 years of his life. Up until 2004, he was the captain of an airline based in Bahrain. His wife had passed away in Jordan many years earlier and, upon retiring, he decided to return to Pakistan in 2007. Bill Latif was not prepared for the cruel twist of fate in store for him just short of his 80th birthday. He was out for a walk near the rest house where he was staying in Islamabad when he was struck by a stray bullet that hit him in the face. He somehow made it back to the rest house and was rushed to the CMH.

Amazingly, no damage was done to his brain, although he lost one eye. But not once did he complain; patience and stoicism were ingrained into his gentle nature. “What else could I do?” he said to me later, smiling quietly, his hair combed carefully. A stroke had slowed his speech slightly and sometimes he forgot things, but he still had plenty of charm. When I asked him whether he ever tried to find out who did this to him, he replied: “One has to accept these things… it would have been a wild goose chase anyhow”.

After the operation at CMH, Bill Latif was moved to the Pakistan Air Force hospital to recuperate. He really had no one to look after him except his air force buddies and they asked the then air force chief for a permanent room for him in the Officers Mess. It was a bit of a struggle for them but they persisted, and finally Bill Latif moved into a room in the PAF Officers Mess in Islamabad where he lived out his final days.

When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few months ago, he took the blow with his characteristic grace, insisting that no one be told since he did not want to be a burden on anyone. Bill Latif’s courage — both in the cockpit and on the ground — was exemplary. And not only was he a fine officer, but a gentleman too.

“He’s been a damn good human being —very humble and extremely generous. He gave everything away to friends and family. He was always admired and well respected” say his friends. This graceful war hero has now gone, gently into the night. May he rest in peace.

Source: http://www.dawn.com/2011/07/17/obituary ... -bill.html


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 Post subject: Re: Remembering Air Commodore (Retd) Nazir Latif, Sitara-i-Jurat
PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:06 pm 
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Best pilots get toughest missions
July 17, 2011

By Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Jamal A Khan

This quote from John Quirk’s much-read 1962 book about fighter pilots resurfaced in my mind because it fits perfectly the PAF career of one of its most admired combat commanders, Air Commodore Nazir (“Bill”) Latif, a Christian officer born in Lahore, who passed into the country’s air history on the last day of June. Any PAF pilot who has commanded a combat squadron (16-24 planes and pilots), a wing (50-70) and an air base (70-120) is considered to have proven to the full his professional credentials through the three toughest career rungs, and is justifiably respected for these marks of distinction among his contemporaries.

Bill Latif commanded two squadrons, three wings (two of them twice!) and two air bases (Peshawar and Karachi’s Masroor), an unmatched command performance that brought hundreds of PAF pilots in close contact with this charismatic leader in the air and on ground. He also held the important post of Director of Operations during one of his staff assignments. Remarkably, Bill Latif was never seen even hinting at how good a pilot he was. He commanded respect by automatically undertaking very difficult flying tasks and achieving goals with apparent ease. I with others noted that he always underplayed his exploits and close calls, of which he had many. In the fighter pilots’ inner circles these hair-raising flights were often recounted to re-affirm their infectious belief that even death could be cheated if one kept one’s skills honed and anticipated threats before they materialised.

In the 1965 war, he led the country’s only bomber wing that could penetrate deep into enemy territory and his pilots relentlessly kept the IAF air bases under attack, making a huge contribution to that war’s objectives.

In the 1971 war, he commanded the same base from which his wing had flown seven years before, only this time under much more difficult circumstances and competing demands on his planes. Without asking for reinforcements that he knew he would not get (because of concentration for an imminent campaign in the north), Latif and his able fighter wing commander successfully launched a series of air strikes to force the retreat of a very dangerous Indian thrust against Hyderabad. Once again, the fighter and bomber pilots under his command courageously achieved and even exceeded their assigned goals. Latif proudly wore his distinguished service S.Bt. and his S.J., a wartime award for valour.

Bill formed and led the world’s only formation aerobatic team on a bomber aircraft, stunning international enthusiasts with his own and his pilots’ skills when he led four B-57 bombers into loops and rolls at a public display in 1964. Bomber planes are seldom built to withstand aerobatic stresses and being much heavier than fighters, they are harder to control precisely through intricate manoeuvres. Latif followed this ‘first’ with another. In 1969, he formed and led the PAF’s first aerobatic team on a supersonic aircraft, the Chinese F-6.


Though kind and generous to a fault, Latif as a commander never hesitated calling some of his close friends who served under him to tell them the reasons he had given them adverse reports and what they needed to do to change that assessment. But both outside and during working hours, he remained ever affable, empathetic, humorous and ever full of amusing anecdotes (many in chaste vernacular) that made the air force a very happy community during his time. In recognition of his outstanding services to the nation’s air arm, the PAF attentively tended to Latif’s medical and related needs on a special directive by the Air Chief, who was also present at his funeral. During the last five years of his life, Bill’s condition needed such caring attention the most. A large number of senior air force officers attended the funeral service of the highly admired Latif, before he was given a hero’s burial in Islamabad.

Source: http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=102019


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 Post subject: Re: Remembering Air Commodore (Retd) Nazir Latif, Sitara-i-Jurat
PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:28 pm 
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Air Commodore Nazir Latif, (Born:July 10, 1927– June 30, 2011),(SJ and Bar),married to Doctor Francis Fazel Elahi, was a 1 star rank general officer in the Pakistan Air Force and a former director-general of the Operations and Plans at the Air Headquarters, Islamabad. Latif was one of the distinguished Chrisitian pilots who participated and fought, for Pakistan side, in 1965 Indo-Pak War and the 1971 Winter War.

Nazir Latif was born into an highly educated christian family in 1927. Bill Latif grew up in Rawalpindi, where his father was a well-known professor of psychology and had done his doctorate at Princeton University. His father later taught at FC College in Lahore as a full professor. Bill Latif had always wanted to be a fighter pilot and joined the Pakistan Air Force soon after the Partition. He was accepted in Pakistan Air Force Academy in 1947. He did 8th GD pilot’s course but because of his high standard in flying, was upgraded to the 7th GD (P) course and graduated in 1950. Nazir was sent to Great Britain where he attended and graduated from Royal Air Force College Cranwell in 1954.

In 1958, he was promoted to Wing Commander as Air Marshal Asghar Khan assumed as Chief of Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazir_Latif


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 Post subject: Re: Remembering Air Commodore (Retd) Nazir Latif, Sitara-i-Jurat
PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:01 am 
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What a gentleman he was ... I met this pilot in 1958 ( when I was little boy) when I went to see "aeroplane" with my relative who was in PAF at Chaklala ( near Dhoke Peeran Fakeeran) we were having a tea in sargent mess and "Bill" sat with us and had cup of tea.... then he got up ... went to counter ...come back and got me two toffees... I will never ever forget this.


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 Post subject: Re: Remembering Air Commodore (Retd) Nazir Latif, Sitara-i-Jurat
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:48 am 
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THE PAF "FALCONS" MAKE HISTORY

February 2, 1958, was a significant day in the history of aviation as well as that of the Pakistan Air Force. On that day, for the first time a formation of 16 fighters (F-86 Sabres) performed a loop during an air display at Masroor Air Base, Karachi. The painting is partly symbolic, depicting the leading elements of the 16 "Falcons" (their call sign) taking off from the runway at Masroor. In the background is an impression of the 16 Sabres in immaculate formation as they looked after having joined up, climbing vertically for a loop. The team was led by the renowned fighter pilot and wartime leader of the Pakistan Air Force, Wing Commander M.Z. Masud, who was later awarded Hilal-i-Jurat in the 1965 war.

The Team:
Wing Commander M.Z. Masud
Squadron Leader Nazir Latif
Squadron Leader S.U. Khan
Squadron Leader Ghulam Haider
Squadron Leader S.M. Ahmad
Squadron Leader Aftab Ahmad
Squadron Leader M. Sadruddin
Flight Lieutenant Sajjad Haider
Flight Lieutenant A.U. Ahmad
Flight Lieutenant Hameed Anwar
Flight Lieutenant Munirruddin Ahmad
Flight Lieutenant M. Arshad
Flight Lieutenant Jamal A. Khan
Flight Lieutenant A.M.K. Lodhi
Flight Lieutenant Wiqar Azim
Flight Lieutenant M.L. Middlecoat


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 Post subject: Re: Remembering Air Commodore (Retd) Nazir Latif, Sitara-i-Jurat
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:18 am 
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In memorium: Nazir 'Bill' Latif
October 28, 2011

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Obituary By Air Commodore (retd) Sajad Haider

Air Commodore (Retd) Sajad Haider pays tribute to an unsung Christian warrior of the 1965 war


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Wing crews in front of a B-57, with leader Bill Latif in centre

Come September, much exaggeration is fed to the ignorant nation to distract it from the chaos, corruption and bloodshed that is today's Pakistan. Each September 7th, the Defense Services are shareholders in this bizarre state's corporate extravaganza by the celebration of Defense Day to commemorate the 1965 war as a victory. Retired veterans are put up by ignorant TV anchors and much unsubstantiated rhetoric unfolds about shooting down the enemy like partridges. The official history of the 1965 War by the Pakistan Air Force is in fact biased and evasive of the real happenings. In truth, celebrating the war as a victory was a ruse, which was cleverly devised by Ayub Khan's state propaganda machine to masquerade the debilitating failure of leadership.

However, no one should underestimate the gallantry of the soldiers of the army and the pilots of the PAF who halted the juggernaut of the Indian invasion comprising two army corps supported by their air force (four times the size of the PAF), against Sialkot, Lahore and Kasur in the North. It is in this context that I would like to share the story of one of those many real heroes whose legacy as a fearless warrior in war and a thorough professional in peacetime is a legend amongst the men in blue of the vintage PAF. Air Commodore Nazir (Bill) Latif had brilliant eyes, which mirrored his soul and a massive, generous heart. I can still picture him today standing in his uniform, his exceptional pilots' golden wing on the right breast pocket and the highest individual gallantry award in the row of distinction medals on his left chest.

Bill Latif was born to a Christian family - his father Professor Latif was the renowned psychology professor at the Forman Christian College in early 1950s. Towards the end of his life, Bill Latif never spoke about his legendary achievements or tribulations. It was unthinkable for this non-controversial warrior to publicly boast to the media about his exemplary career as a consummate professional. That is why few in this nation would have heard about this gallant son of the soil. Tragically, this legend glided gently, silently into the sunset on the 1st day of July, 2011 (I believe that is the date because no one from the PAF or the retired officers who knew about his death had the compassion to inform me about his sudden death, knowing how very close I was to him as he braved through the last three distressing years).

Both of the founding Commanders-in-Chiefs of the PAF, Air Marshals Asghar Khan and Nur Khan, had held Bill Latif in the highest professional esteem and helped him during his recent desolation when he was hit by a stray bullet, losing one eye, followed by a stroke and prostate cancer. They were not informed of Bill's demise. Bill Latif had been alone in the world, after having lost his wife years ago. I was one of his closest colleagues during his difficult years but I never heard a whisper of complaint through his most tenuous moments. Every single day he would call me at 11 am with the words: "How are you today; is everything alright? It will be alright, don't worry." How could one respond to a friend so positive even as he braved a lost eye, a stroke following the extraction of the bullet, and prostate cancer? "Sir, I am on top of the world" was my only reply, even if it was far from reality.

Bill Latif was undoubtedly one of the best fighter pilots, bomber pilots and commanders during peace and in both the wars. He was an exceptional case, the only one to my knowledge who was kicked up even as a cadet to a higher batch because he was so good from the start. He commanded several fighter squadrons, all the fighter wings of the PAF; twice commanded the B-57 Bomber wing, especially when he replaced two mediocre predecessors to perk up the poor performance of the bombers. Bill Latif also commanded the prestigious Fighter Leader's School (Top Gun School) where I was his flight commander. I had the honour to serve under him again as squadron commander of No.19 Squadron when he was the Commander of the largest No. 32 Fighter wing at Mauripur (Masroor Base). Later I served with him when he commanded the famous No. 33 Tactical wing at Sargodha, and finally when he was base commander Peshawar, where I left him to join the Air Staff College.

He was a spectacular flyer, instructor and commander; and he never ever raised his voice or used expletives so common in our profession. That was the quality that made every subordinate and superior place him on the highest pedestal. Once as a squadron commander he was leading a flight of four fighters, with Flt. Lt. Rehmat Khan as deputy with two younger pilots as wingmen. The weather at Mauripur began to deteriorate and a general immediate recall to all aircraft was ordered by the air traffic control. Bill Latif brought his formation back but the visibility had dropped to below the minimum required for landing. Low on fuel, he made a swift though ominous decision. He ordered all three in the formation to head in different directions and eject. Three F- 86s crashed to the ground as their pilots parachuted down to safety to live and fly another day.

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The aerobatic team of black F-6s (call sign Rattlers) perform over Sargodha. This team was led by Wing Commander Nazir Latif.

What about Bill Latif? Tinchoo Zaheer, my old buddy, batch mate and a fighter as well as bomber pilot, recalls: "The weather had moved in too fast and when we heard Bill's formation overhead, the runway visibility was down to 100 yards at the most. We had a prayer on our lips, as there was no alternative for diversion and the formation had been gone long, thus it was low on fuel. Lo and behold, after the thunder of the four fighters had swished away, we heard the sound of a fighter engine as though someone had landed in that treacherous weather. Suicidal was the only word to describe the act, and it could only be Bill Latif!" That was my commander, friend and a real warrior. Bill Latif saved one fighter that day at the risk of his own life. This is but one of a thousand episodes which filled the life of this legend.

The performance of the Bombers in the 1971 war was spectacular but it came as a surprise when the Indian historians Jagan Mohan and Samir Chopra (and the Official Indian record of war) exposed the truth about the PAF performance during the 1965 war and the Indian Air Force losses to PAF bomber raids in the 1971 war. Bill Latif not only could take credit for the overall performance by the bombers but he was also the only commander in his air rank that flew dangerous daylight and night missions against the Indian deluge in Khokhrapar sector threatening Hyderabad. He led his men in both wars with great leadership, aplomb and courage. In 1965 his last mission was the deepest penetration in enemy territory against their farthest bomber base in Agra - with Mig-21s, SAM missiles and the inferno of light and heavy anti-aircraft shells emblazing the sky over the target.

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Nazir Bill Latif with a PAF Martin B-57 Canberra bomber

It is an ominous indicator that a Christian warrior, who along with many of that faith fought with exemplary courage (some even gave their blood for Pakistan), it is ominous that such a man was given little recognition by the Government of Pakistan. He was the true legend for whom the Hilal-e-Jurat was created, but instead it went to losers in high quarters. This odious fracas goes on relentlessly with the highest medals being pinned on ignoble quislings whose only achievement is bootlicking and looting.

Farewell Bill the great fighter, you will always live on in the brave hearts who loved and admired you. I can see a new shiny star in the firmament and know it must be you with such brilliance, in the holding pattern, awaiting your turn for scrutiny. Surely, the most Compassionate and Merciful Creator will judge you justly as you were fair and good to everyone in your life. May your soul be in eternal peace, far away from this cruel and unjust world.

Source: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft ... 28&page=20


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