The Egyptian Presidency mourned the death of former Defence Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy, who passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 85.
"Egypt lost Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy, the former general commander of the Armed Forces and minister of defence and military production, who was one of its most loyal sons and a military symbol who had served his country for more than 50 years," read a presidential statement.
"Tantawy was one of the heroes of the glorious October War, who contributed to the making of the greatest heroics ... and a statesman who ran the country in a most difficult time, confronting with wisdom the dangers that surrounded Egypt," the statement added.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, on behalf of the Egyptian people and government, condoles with the family of late field marshal Tantawy, the statement said.
Later in the day, President El-Sisi announced a state of official mourning for the death of Tantawy.
The President tweets
“Today, I lost a father, a teacher, and a person who was protective of his homeland. I learned a lot from him and his dedication to serving the country,” El-Sisi said in a tweet on his official account.
“It is Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy who confronted the most serious difficulties that Egypt faced in its contemporary history,” the president wrote.
An illustrious career
Tantawy graduated from the Military Academy in 1956 and later on from the Command and Staff College.
He participated in several wars, including the 1967 War, the War of Attrition, and the 6 October 1973 War, serving as the commander of a combat unit in the infantry.
In 1988, he was appointed as the head of the Presidential Guard.
In 1991, he was appointed as the defence minister and the general commander of the Armed Forces.
He was awarded the rank of field marshal in 1993.
He was acting president of Egypt in his capacity as the chair of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces after the stepping down of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb mourned the death of former defence minister, saying that “he departed [from this world] after a long journey marked by generosity and patriotism in which he contributed to Egypt’s heroics and glory.”
In a statement, Al-Tayyeb said “Tantawy was a military leader of a unique calibre who stood tall while confronting the enemies of the homeland at a critical time, guiding the ship to a safe harbour.”
The Coptic church remembers
Head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II mourned the passing of former defence minister, saying Tantawy “served his country faithfully in all the positions he held and was part of the ranks of the Armed Forces during the Tripartite Aggression, the War of Attrition, the glorious victory in the 6 October War, and the Gulf War.”
"He served as defence minister for 20 years, during which he contributed to the development of the capacities of the Armed Forces, and he was part of the country's leadership in critical times."
The church extended its condolences to the leadership and personnel of the Armed Forces, the members of Tantawy’s family, and his students.