ZAMBOANGA CITY – One of the soldiers who survived in the July 4 Air Force plane crash is thankful that God has kept him alive to grant his wish to serve Sulu, his home province.
“Malaking pasasalamat ko sa Diyos naka-survive ako. Excited ako mapunta ng Jolo para makapag-serbisyo (I am so thankful to God that I survived. I am excited to be in Sulu to serve),” Sgt. Al-Ameen Sahibuddin, a native of Jolo, Sulu, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview on Saturday.
Sahibuddin, who is on his 21st year in service, was assigned in Caraga Region since the time he enlisted in the Philippine Army.
He said his first assignment was with the 26th Infantry Battalion (IB) and then with the Headquarters and Headquarters Service Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division, Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City.
“Mag-rereport ako sa unit ko para mag-serbisyo sa Jolo kung magaling na ako (I will report to the unit to serve Jolo once I recover),” said Sahibuddin, assigned to the 35IB in Patikul, Sulu.
He wished to serve in his home province until he retires from the military service.
Sahibuddin is among the 14 soldiers recuperating at the Heroes Ward of Camp Navarro General Hospital (CNGH).
He recalled that he was seated near the fuselage during the flight from Cagayan de Oro to Jolo, Sulu and he held tight when the plane crashed in Sitio Amman, Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu.
“Kumapit lang ako kasi natabunan din ako ng mga bagahe (I braced myself since I was pinned by the baggage),” he said which also protected him as the plane caught fire.
The soldier added that he was lucky he did not lose consciousness despite the impact of the crash and he was able to run upon seeing an opening and did not mind the raging flames.
He even managed to pull some of the survivors to a safe distance and removed their smoldering uniforms.
Sahibuddin said he was relieved and thankful at the sight of the soldiers and other first responders at the crash site.
He also expressed sympathy to the families of the soldiers who died.
The Lockheed aircraft was transporting soldiers to Jolo to be deployed to their battalions. Around 96 people were recorded in the C-130’s flight manifest, including three pilots and five aircrews.
The death toll stands at 52– 49 troops and three civilians. (PNA)