Commemorating Colonel Kassa Gebremariam in Virginia

On March 18, 2017 a Special Event Commemorating the Ethiopian Hero Colonel Kassa Gebremariam and the launching of his biography, written in Amharic, was held in Virginia at Meaza restaurant. Over 300 guests attended this event; among them were several former Military Officers, Ministers, Ambassadors and other distinguished guests.

At the beginning of the commemoration three uniformed former Ethiopian Defense Force members bearing the Ethiopian and American flag followed by Colonel Kassa Gebremariam’s family ceremonially entered the hall. Then three of Colonel Kassa Gebremariam’s grandchildren unveiled a poster depicting the cover of the book. That was followed by a brief speech by one of his grandchildren, Kassa Kassahun, who said that he was proud to be named after his grandfather, expressed his hope that people read his grandfather’s biography and finally introduced his mother, the author, to the audience. The author, Dr. Sentayehu Kassa gave a short speech on how she wrote the book, how a loving and caring Col. Kassa Gebremariam was and thanked the committee that organized the event and all the guests for coming.

General Wubetu Tsegaye, who had served in Eritrea for over fifteen years and had written a book on the war took over the stage and gave his first hand testimony of Col. Kassa Gebremariam’s heroic accomplishments in the war. He gave a detailed account of Colonel Kassa Gebremariam’s lead role in the first phase of The Task Force Campaign and his final mission to capture Nakfa.

Major Nigatu Bogale representing the Harar Military Academy’s 21st Course expressed his great admiration and appreciation of Col. Kassa Gebremariam. Then Major Mesfin Zeleke of the same course, who was at the command post of Col. Kassa Gebremariam’s last mission, gave his eye witness testimony detailing from the beginning to the end of that mission. The details were so deeply touchy that some in the audience were in tears.

Then Major Dawit Weldegiorgis’ message from Namibia was read by Ato Ayalneh Ejigu. Major Dawit started by saying that Col. Kassa Gebremariam was the “Unsung Hero!” (Yaltezemerelet Jegna). He also expressed that Col. Kassa Gebremariam was the embodiment of courage, bravery, the love of Ethiopia and its people. He also mentioned that when Col. Kassa’s name is mentioned there are still some people who are shaken by emotion. At the end he praised and thanked Dr. Sentayehu Kassa for writing her father’s biography.

General Tesfaye Habtemariam in his video message from Ethiopia detailed Col. Kassa’s leadership qualities and his dedication to his country and its people. General Tesfaye had worked under Col. Kassa in both Special and Anti-Hijacking forces. General Tesfaye said that he knew Col. Kassa had sworn not to give his back to his enemy and that he kept his word to the end. He called Col. Kassa Gebremariam the “Unsung Hero!” and lastly said Col. Kassa’s history will remain for generations to come.

There came the time to show video messages of Colonel Semret Medhanye, the first Ethiopian general manager of Ethiopian Airlines. He started by explaining how the anti-hijacker group lead by Col. Kassa Gebremariam was formed. He said that had Col. Kassa and his group were from developed countries, Europe or the USA, their contribution to worldwide Civil Aviation Safety would have been given a higher place in history. He also added that their actions would have produced a blockbuster movie as well.

General Tilahun Argaw’s video message started by detailing the courses he took in USA with Col. Kassa Gebremariam. He also explained how Col. Kassa was selected to form the first Anti-hijacking team on their return from the US. General Tilahun gave the details of Col. Kassa Gebremariam’s character in his social life and his leadership qualities in the military. He called him a very generous, caring and loving person. He also knew how Col. Kassa loved his family. He read a short poem at the end.

Two recorded speeches by Col. Kassa Gebremariam were played for the audience as well. At the end the author’s book signing took place. By some estimates this was one of the greatest commemorating and book launching event in Washington DC area to date.

The Coordinating Committee of the Event