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Col. Edward "Tug" Wilson dies in Abu Dhabi

Colonel who helped build UAE armed forces dies in Abu Dhabi.

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Col. Wilson was the first commander of Abu Dhabi Defence Force, the forerunner of today's UAE Armed Forces.

Col. Edward "Tug" Wilson, the founder and first commander of the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, died in Abu Dhabi on Friday after a brief illness, WAM reported.

Born in Yorkshire, England, in 1921, Wilson joined the Royal Air Force at the age of 20 and later transferred into the Worcestershire Regiment of the British Army where he served for many years, rising to the rank of colonel.

Besides fighting in World War II and the Korean War, he also took part in the Berlin Airlift and in operations in Malaya and British Honduras before coming to Abu Dhabi in 1963.

After Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan became UAE's Ruler in 1966, Col. Wilson worked closely with him to establish the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, the forerunner of today's UAE Armed Forces, and was appointed its first commander - a post he held until his retirement in 1968.

During this time, he became a close friend of Shaikh Zayed, who in 1973 asked him to come out of retirement in England and to return to Abu Dhabi to set up the Royal Stables.

Over the next 30 years, as the stables' director general, and until Shaikh Zayed's death, he oversaw its development into one of the world's top centres for Arabian horses.

Nick Cochrane-Dyet, a long-time UAE resident who knew Col. Wilson for several decades, described him as "very meticulous and enthusiastic" in his military work.

"He had been here a long time and was much respected by the Al Nahyan family. He was someone who would do anything for you. He was a very kind mentor and guardian to me and a very kind gentleman," he said.

In 2005, Col. Wilson was awarded the annual Abu Dhabi Award for his services to the country.

A memorial service will be held at the St Andrew's Community Centre in Abu Dhabi at 1pm on Saturday.