CAIRO: Thousands marched Friday in the funeral of an Egyptian soldier as he was buried in his hometown Faqous in Sharqia governorate 41 years after his death in the 1973 October War, Youm7 reported.
Private Mohamed Ahmed Hassan Atwa, who was killed when he was 28, had been buried in the cemetery of the Second Field Army Tuesday, but the military transferred his body back to Faqous at his family’s request.
“[Atwa’s wife] wished that there would be remains of his to come here, like everyone else. She felt that she was missing something. The bodies of other martyrs arrived and were buried. They have graves and their families visit them, but she could not and she was helpless,” Atwa’s son Reda told Youm7 Thursday.
The couple had two sons, and Atwa’s wife never remarried. She died of hepatitis in 1989.
Atwa’s remains were uncovered during the digging of the New Suez Canal Project Monday, but were previously mistaken for those of Mohamed Hassan Atwa, a different soldier with a similar name, from Toukh village in Dakahlia governorate, who went missing in the same war when he was 22.
Military spokesperson Mohamed Ghoneim said Wednesday that the identified Atwa was from Faqous and that he went missing on Oct. 18, 1973. He was officially presumed dead in 1977.
Along with Atwa’s body, workers found a combat boot, a canteen, a comb and a wallet with his national ID and his metal conscription card.
Reda told Youm7 that a military official informed him over the phone that his father’s body had finally been recovered and buried. He added that the official promised to send him a video of the funeral where his father was honored and received a 21-gun salute.
“Whenever I recite Al-Fatiha (a chapter of the Quran) for my mother, I remember my father immediately. I have always wished that my father’s grave would be next to my mother’s so I could visit them both,” Reda told Youm7.
Atwa joined the armed forces prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, known in Egypt as “Al-Naksa” (The Setback) and finished his conscription during the War of Attrition between 1967 and 1970, but was summoned back before the October War, where Egypt regained control over the majority of the Sinai Peninsula after six years of Israeli occupation.
Military conscription in Egypt is compulsory for males between 18 and 30 for up to three years, and they may be summoned anytime after they finish their service until they turn 46.
A school in Reda’s village will be named after his father, Sharqia governor Abdel Aziz Othman said Thursday.
Meanwhile, Dakahlia governor Omar al-Shawadfi said in press statements Thursday that a school would still be named after the still-missing Atwa from Toukh, despite the fact that the uncovered remains do not belong to him.
Additional reporting by Hamdy Abdel Azim and Ahmed Gouda.