Awarded for Gallantry

This Independence Day, the following personnel from the armed forces were conferred gallantry awards. This is who they are and why they were cited.

Art: Shruti Pushkarna

Art: Shruti Pushkarna

This Independence Day, the following personnel from the armed forces were conferred gallantry awards. This is who they are and why they were cited. All citations have been provided by the respective service and have been carried unedited.

Indian Army

While a total of 20 army personnel were honored for gallantry, one officer was awarded the Kirti Chakra and six others were conferred the Shaurya Chakra for displaying conspicuous bravery in operations.

Major Mahesh Kumar, Sena Medal

Major Mahesh Kumar, SM, of 22 Rashtriya Rifles (PUNJAB) has been awarded “Kirti Chakra” for displaying indomitable courage, conspicuous gallantry and exhibiting outstanding leadership in true traditions of Indian Army in successful anti terrorist operations in Sopore (J&K). Major Mahesh is a resident of Ludhiana, Punjab.

On December 18, 2012, in an anti terrorist operation, the officer with total disregard to his personal safety, and displaying raw courage and remarkable tactical acumen successfully eliminated two hardcore foreign terrorists at close range. In a similar daring action on October 21, 2012, the officer came face to face with one terrorist who was firing indiscriminately from the debris of a house which had been destroyed. The officer unmindful of personal safety eliminated the dreaded LeT terrorist from close quarters. In yet another operation on April 17, 2013, the officer disarmed and nabbed a LeT divisional commander in a hand to hand combat.

Major Sanjeev Kumar

Major Sanjeev Kumar of 39 Assam Rifles has been awarded “Shaurya Chakra” for displaying dogged determination and exceptional courage under heavy hostile fire which resulted in elimination of two hardcore terrorists, without any kind of own casualty in successful proactive operations in Churachandpur (Manipur). Major Sanjeev is a resident of Sirmour, Himachal Pradesh.

On January 21, 2013, Major Sanjeev while on an ambush spotted torch lights in the far distance. In a bold tactical move intruders were allowed to come into own area and on reaching the ambush site were challenged by Major Sanjeev Kumar. The officer displayed exemplary courage and conspicuous bravery under daunting hostile fire and with utter disregard to his personal safety pursued the intruders and shot down two of them with precision fire from close quarters.

Major Swagat Kumar Das

Major Swagat Kumar Das of 9 MARATHA LI has been awarded “Shaurya Chakra” for his conspicuous act of gallantry with utter disregard to personal safety in successful anti terrorist operations in Goalpara district (Assam). Major Swagat is a resident of Ganjam, Orissa.

On August 05, 2012, Major Swagat during an ambush observed suspicious movement of three terrorists with weapons from the village towards the jungle. On being challenged the suspected terrorists started firing indiscriminately towards the officer and his buddy. The officer, showing utter disregard to personal safety closed in with the fleeing terrorists and with well aimed fire eliminated two dreaded terrorists, later identified as self style commander and local self style corporal of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

Major Amarjeet Singh

Major Amarjeet Singh of 44 Assam Rifles has been awarded “Shaurya Chakra” for displaying raw courage, grit, dogged determination, decisiveness, esprit-de-corps and calm composure under terrorist fire, while eliminating two hardcore terrorists during successful anti terrorist operations in Ukhrul district (Manipur). Major Amarjeet is a resident of Siwan, Bihar.

Based on specific information Major Amarjeet tracked a group of terrorists through most arduous route with dense jungle and thick undergrowth involving steep climb and dangerous down slope. On locating them, with utter disregard to his personal safety, displaying indomitable courage and killer instinct, Major Amarjeet Singh along with his buddy further closed in and engaged the terrorists in a fierce fire fight. In this close encounter the officer killed two terrorists, one of them being commander-in-chief of a terrorist group.

Major Mohan Chandra, Sena Medal

Major Mohan Chandra, SM of 4 KUMAON has been awarded “Shaurya Chakra” for displaying outstanding raw courage, audacity and total disregard to personal safety in successful anti terrorist operations on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kupwara (J&K). Major Mohan is a resident of Chamoli, Uttarakhand.

On November 08, 2012 while on ambush at LoC, Major Mohan saw suspicious movement of six terrorists. When the terrorists were barely 15 meters ahead of him, showing extraordinary boldness, audacity, firing skills and agility, he immediately triggered the claymore mine and fired with his personal weapon. In the ensuing fire fight, five dreaded foreign terrorists were eliminated. The officer himself, single handed eliminated two terrorists, thus foiling a major infiltration bid.

Captain Rampreet Singh

Captain Rampreet Singh of 3 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles has been awarded “Shaurya Chakra” for displaying exemplary courage in the face of incessant automatic fire with total disregard to his personal safety, which resulted in saving the precious lives of his team members and in elimination of two hard core terrorists in successful anti terrorist operations in Karbi Anglong District (Assam). Captain Rampreet is a resident of Bhind, Madhya Pradesh.

Captain Rampreet in a joint search operation was fired upon by automatic weapons. As the approach was constricted, entire party of Captain Rampreet Singh got pinned down by heavy volume of fire. Undeterred, in a daring and bold action, Captain Rampreet Singh moved towards the target, leaving behind the party under cover and showing exemplary battle craft and tactical maneuvering, outflanked them and shot down two terrorists who were firing indiscriminately at them.

Naik Balwinder Singh, Sena Medal

Naik Balwinder Singh, SM of 22 Rashtriya Rifles (PUNJAB) has been awarded “Shaurya Chakra” for displaying indomitable courage, conspicuous gallantry and exhibiting outstanding leadership in the true traditions of Indian Army in successful anti terrorist operations in Sopore (J&K). Naik Balwinder is a resident of Ludhiana, Punjab.

On December 18, 2012, during an operation in Sopore district, J&K, Naik Balwinder Singh was faced with heavy firing by terrorists from inside a house. Naik Balwinder Singh, seeing the imminent danger to own party, with utter disregard to his personal safety crawled towards the target house to place an improvised explosive device to flush out the terrorists. As the house was collapsing, two terrorists rushed out of the house and came face to face with the individual. Naik Balwinder Singh, displayed exceptional courage, conspicuous bravery and remarkable tactical acumen engaged the terrorists and shot dead both the terrorists in a close combat. Both the terrorists were identified as foreign terrorists of LeT.

Indian Air Force

Aircraftsman Murali Kannan [Environmental Support Service Assistant]

On October 06, 2012, Late AC M Kannan was detailed to perform the duty of Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) in charge Fire Section. On receiving a ‘fire call’ from nearby village, late AC M Kannan immediately mobilized the fire crew and pressed them into action in aid of civil power.

The task was daunting as it was pitch dark and fire was spreading fast due to explosion of LPG cylinders and other inflammable materials stored in households. The flames were rising above roof and fire was threatening to engulf the whole of village as houses are clustered close together. The situation was becoming precarious with each passing minute and the team was struggling to control fire.

Without caring for his personal safety putting service before self and in true spirit of an Air Warrior, Late AC M Kannan climbed unto burning roof and directed the water spray on the origin of the fire.

His valiant effort and gallant act in extremely hazardous conditions resulted in the fire being controlled and resulted in saving many precious lives and property.

However, while gallantly fighting the flames AC M Kannan made the supreme sacrifice. This courageous act of the young Air Warrior epitomizes the highest traditions of the IAF and his selfless act of valor in circumstances which were a threat to his own life is worth emulating. This heroic deed of Late AC M Kannan was also appreciated by Shri Tarun Kumar Gogoi, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam in a letter addressed to the AOC-in-C, Esatern Air Command.

For his act of exceptional courage Late AC M Kannan is recommended for the award of Shaurya Chakra (Posthumous).

Squadron Leader Gaurav Vikram Singh Chauhan [Flying (Pilot)]

On February 19, 2013, Wing Commander Vikram Singh Chauhan was tasked to fly an Air to Ground strike mission over Pokharan Range. He was authorized to fly as a Weapon System Operator (WSO) onboard a Su-30 MKI aircraft laden with 18X100 kg bombs. The objective of the mission was to showcase the immense fire power and accuracy in weapon delivery of the Su-30 MKI in ‘Ex Iron Fist’. The mission which was undertaken by night was a part of the Full Dress Rehearsal for the final event.

The mission was executed by Wing Commander Vikram Singh Chauhan where he was the WSO assisted his pilot in carrying out a flawless strike and made good the ‘Time on Target’ to employ his formidable weapon load. Subsequent to the trigger press by the most dramatic chain of event witnessed in recent aviation history.

The release of bombs from the aircraft was almost instantaneously accompanied with a loud explosion in the vicinity of the right wing. This was followed by the aircraft being engulfed in a large ball of fire and breaking up into several parts in mid-air. The explosion on the right wing caused it to be ripped off at the root and the aircraft viciously spiraled downwards in an uncontrolled trajectory with a very high rate of descent.

Wing Commander Chauhan was hit in the face by shards of the canopy that shattered with the first explosion. This caused him to sustain several lacerations and wind blast injuries. Despite negligible vision in the darkness of the desert sky which was further obscured by facial bleeding caused by his injuries, he made a superhuman effort to push himself against the burning railing of the cockpit, accessed the ejection handle and successfully operated it. This resulted in both the pilots ejecting safely.

Eye witness accounts and video footage of the incident indicate the undeniable presence of a large explosion near the wing. In face of such a unprecedented situation wherein the aircraft bursts into flames with no warning of impending failure Wing Commander Vikram Singh Chauhan displayed exceptional courage, situational awareness, uncommon reflexes, in extricating himself and crew member from a distressed aircraft.

For his act of exceptional courage and presence of mind in the face of potentially catastrophic and life threatening situation, Wing Commander Vikram Singh Chauhan is recommended for the award of Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).

Wing Commander Umesh Singh Bhadauria [Flying (Pilot)]

On August 19, 2012, Wing Commander UKS Bhadauria was authorized to lead a two helicopter formation to search and rescue a critically injured German national, who was part of a joint German-Italian team of mountaineers which was climbing up Nun peak. The team was hit by an avalanche in which one German national sustained severe injury while two porters were missing. The expedition requested for an air rescue through their organizing agency and embassy in India.

Despite the very limited time and sketchy information available, Wing Commander UKS Bhadauria along with his crew members displayed extreme swiftness and professionalism in planning the mission which included the route and fuel planning, power margins and a plan to execute the search and rescue. Using his judgement and navigation skills, he reached the avalanche site just a few hundred feet below the Nun peak even though the co-ordinates provided were way out. He started a search pattern at 23000 feet which is the service ceiling of the helicopter.

He quickly spotted the foot tracks coming down from the avalanche site and followed it to spot the casualty. The site was located in a place with very little maneuvering space. Despite the deteriorating weather, he reattempted a landing to pick up the critically injured casualty. The inhospitable terrain coupled with negligible reserve of power and turbulence in the area made the task extremely challenging. However he remained undeterred and used his experience and well calculated judgement to execute an extremely difficult approach to land on an unprepared surface in a very restricted space. The casualty was taken onboard without wasting any time and the rescue team landed back at Leh within three hours.

For his act of exceptional courage, professional competence and successful execution of the rescue mission in the face of an presence of inhospitable terrain and extremely demanding conditions, Sqn Ldr UKS Bhadauria is recommended for the award of Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).

Squadron Leader Omar Browne [Flying (Pilot)]

On September 25, 2012, Squadron Leader Omar Browne was authorized to fly a 2 Vs 1 Combat training mission as the Captain on Su 30 MKI along with an Under training Operations Weapon Systems Operator, Flying Officer Shobhit Mishra. Thirty minutes after take off while engaged in the second air combat situation at an altitude of 4.2 km and speed 790 KMPH, the pilot experienced severe restriction in the forward movement of the control stick in his cockpit.

This prevented the aircraft from achieving normal rate descent to lower altitudes. During this unusual emergency the pilot called off the combat and analyzed the situation with remarkable professionalism, checked all cockpit indications meticulously, cross checked controllability of aircraft from rear cockpit and assessed the feasibility of executing a landing with limited Rate of Descend(ROD) using full nose down longitudinal trim and maximum forward pressure on the control column.

This was further aggravated when on lowering the undercarriage the aircraft nose started pitching up and control stick jammed in the neutral position. Demonstrating exceptional skill and composure under high stress the pilot could achieve a max ROD of 3-5 m/s only with trimmers at a speed of 430-410 KMPH in a landing configuration.

Taking a calculated risk the pilot decided to attempt landing. He regulated the fuel to make the aircraft light and executed a long and shallow approach with 2-3 m/s ROD using only trimmer till flare out. Even after touchdown the pilot could not lower the aircraft nose wheel with stick force and had to resort to use of forward trim. Finally the pilot was able to execute safe landing from this grave situation.

The pilot displayed immense courage, highest level of professionalism, superlative decision making backed by exceptional flying skills to recover the aircraft from an otherwise inevitable accident.

For his exceptional display of courage and flying skills in the face of a life threatening situation, Squadron Leader Omar Browne is recommended for the award of Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).

Squadron Leader SK Pohare [Flying (Pilot)]

On August 23, 2012, Flight Lieutenant SK Pohare was authorized to lead a two aircraft Combat Air Patrol(CAP) versus Strike plus Escorts as CAP leader in a MiG-29 aircraft.

After getting airborne while proceeding to the exercise area at a distance of 38 km from base, altitude of 5.1km and speed of 600 KMPH, the canopy perspex of the aircraft shattered. This resulted in explosive the decompression and Perspex shards hitting the pilot on left shoulder. The helmet visor also broke due to effect of wind blast.

Realizing the gravity of the situation the pilot initiated recovery maintain control of the aircraft in a calm and composed manner. He also realized that the aircraft compass had become unserviceable and hand held global positioning system had stopped. At this stage the weather in the area had also become overcast with several rain patches making it even more challenging to recover the aircraft.

The pilot with exceptional presence of mind and courage skirted oil installations in populated area in the vicinity of the air field, braving personal discomfort due to injuries and deteriorating weather situations carried out a slow speed check while being monitored by another formation member who had joined up for providing assistance.

Notwithstanding the reduced frontal visibility very high cockpit noise level and aircraft weight, the pilot skilfully positioned himself for an emergency landing with radar assistance and executed the same flawlessly without any further damage to the aircraft.

For his exceptional courage very high standards of professionalism and contribution to aerospace safety, Flight Lieutenant Sk Pohare is recommended for the award of Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).

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Follow Saurabh Joshi on Twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/saurabhjoshi Saurabh is a journalist based in New Delhi, India who has worked in print, television as well as internet news media. Besides defense and strategy, his past assignments have included reporting from Kashmir, coverage of terror strikes as well as election coverage from all over India. He has a Bachelors degree in Journalism (Honors) as well as a law degree (LLB), both from the University of Delhi.
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