President confers one Ashok Chakra, three Shaurya Chakra and three Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantary) to Indian Air Force

January 26, 2018 Photo(s): By PRO (Air Force)

President confers Ashok Chakra (Posthumous) to Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala

Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala was a specialist weapon operator in the IAF Special Forces Detachment. He was attached with 13 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, under the aegis of 'Op Rakshak' in Jammu & Kashmir for active counter insurgency operations. On 18 Nov 17, based on specific tech intelligence, an offensive was launched jointly by the Garud detachment and 13 RR in Chanderger village of Bandipora district in J&K. The Garud detachment covertly approached the target house where the suspected terrorists were hiding and laid a close quarter ambush. Cpl Nirala, displaying exceptional battle craft, positioned himself close to the approach of the hideout, thus cutting off all possibilities of an escape by the insurgents. Laying this ambush itself at such close quarters demanded a very high degree of courage and professional acumen.

While the detachment laid in wait, six terrorists hiding in the house, rushed out, shooting and lobbing grenades at the Garuds. Cpl Nirala, disregarding personal safety and displaying indomitable courage, retaliated with effective lethal fire and gunned down a category 'A' terrorist named Ubaid Alias Osama Jungi (nephew of LeT commander Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi). Readjusting his position to protect his colleagues and preventing other terrorists from escaping, Cpl Nirala killed one more category 'A+' terrorist, named Mehmud Bhai (LeT North Kashmir commander) and injured two others. In this violent exchange of fire, Cpl Nirala was hit by a volley of small arms fire. Despite being critically injured, the Corporal continued retaliatory fire. Subsequently, he succumbed to fatal gunshot wounds received in the fierce encounter, which resulted in the killing of alI six dreaded terrorists.

For this act of most conspicuous bravery, pre-eminent valour and supreme sacrifice, Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala has been awarded Ashok Chakra (Posthumous).

 

President confers Shaurya Chakra (Posthumous) to Sergeant Khairnar Milind Kishor

Sergeant Khairnar Milind Kishor was deployed with Rashtriya Rifles in Counter Insurgency role in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir. Based on specific intelligence input about the presence of a group of terrorists, a cordon was laid on the night of 10 Oct 17 for search operations on the outskirts of Hajin village. Sergeant Milind was in the inner cordon as stop party towards the rear of the target house.

On 11 Oct 17, at 0440 hrs, a group of five to six heavily armed terrorists charged out of their hiding place firing automatic weapons and grenades directly towards the position held by Sergeant Milind. Sergeant Milind retaliated by firing back at the terrorists and pinned them down with his accurate fire. However, due to the intense and concentrated fire from automatic weapons and grenades lobbed by terrorists, Sergeant Milind was hit by flurry of bullets and shrapnel. In spite of being grievously injured and being under heavy fire, the airwarrior disregarding his personal safety, held his position and maintained precise fire and cut off the escape route of the terrorists. With the escape route blocked, terrorists resorted to indiscriminate firing and closed-in towards Sergeant Milind. In the resulting close quarter fight, Sergeant Milind shot down one terrorist and grievously injured another. However, due to dense and persistent firing by the surviving terrorists, Sergeant Milind was hit by bullets and was critically injured. He was evacuated to 92 Base Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Sergeant Khairnar Milind Kishor displayed bravery of the highest order and in this confrontation lead the attack against the terrorist.

For his indomitable spirit, exceptional courage, disregard of personal safety in the face of enemy and for making the supreme sacrifice, Sergeant Khairnar Milind Kishor has been awarded Shaurya Chakra (Posthumous).

 

President confers Shaurya Chakra (Posthumous) to Corporal Nilesh Kumar Nayan

Corporal Nilesh Kumar Nayan was deployed with Rashtriya Rifles in Counter Insurgency role in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir. Based on specific intelligence input about the presence of a group of terrorists, a cordon was laid at night on 10 Oct 17 for search operations on the outskirts of Hajin village. Corporal Nayan was in the inner cordon along with his track leader as stop party towards the rear of the target house.

At 0440 hrs on 11 Oct 17, five to six heavily armed terrorists charged out of their hideout, firing with automatic weapons and lobbing grenades directly towards the position of Corporal Nayan. Corporal Nayan was quick to respond and retaliated by heavy and accurate fire thereby containing the terrorists and preventing their escape. During the ensuing gun battle, his track leader was injured by bullet and shrapnel. He provided covering fire to ensure the safety of his comrade. The terrorists now directed massive fire towards his position due to which he was hit by a volley of bullets. However, Corporal Nayan displayed exemplary courage and in the highest traditions of military, held his ground. In spite of serious injuries, he killed one terrorist. The remaining terrorists now closed-in on to his position and directed all firing towards him. In the consequent battle with the escaping terrorists, Corporal Nayan fired at another terrorist and injured him. However in the melee, he suffered fatal bullet injuries and attained martyrdom. During the mission, Corporal Nilesh Kumar Nayan displayed extreme valour, highest order of camaraderie and with total disregard to personal safety made the supreme sacrifice for the nation.

For this display of raw courage, valiant gallantry and making the supreme sacrifice, Corporal Nilesh Kumar Nayan has been awarded Shaurya Chakra (Posthumous).

 

President confers Shaurya Chakra to Corporal Devendra Mehta

Corporal Devendra Mehta was attached for active counter insurgency operations with 13 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion under the aegis of 'Op Rakshak' in Jammu & Kashmir. On 18 Nov 17, based on specific tech intelligence, an offensive was launched jointly by the Garud detachment and 13 RR in Chanderger village of Bandipora district in J&K. The Garud detachment covertly approached the target house where the suspected terrorists were hiding and laid a close quarter ambush. Corporal Mehta was assigned the role of buddy of LMG man. He exhibited exceptional situational awareness and effective combat skills while deployed in the cordon. He helped establish a speculative and deadly field of fire with his buddy, thereby sealing the likely escape routes of the terrorists. While the detachment laid in wait, six terrorists hiding in the house, rushed out, shooting and lobbing grenades at the Garuds. Corporal Mehta demonstrated indomitable courage by retaliating with effective, accurate lethal fire and gunned down one category 'A' terrorist named Abu Qital (LeT front man in North Kashmir). To counter other advancing terrorists, he readjusted his arc of fire and provided cover to the LMG man, being fully aware of the risk of being exposed to automatic gunfire. Cpl Mehta disregarding personal safety, displayed indomitable courage while assisting in the evacuation of his buddy Corporal Nirala who was critically injured in the gun fight and took over the LMG to retaliate in order to neutralise the six terrorists.

For this act of gallantry, Corporal Devendra Mehta has been awarded Shaurya Chakra.

 

President confers Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to Wing Commander Anshul Saxena Flying (Pilot)

On Saturday, 11 Mar 17 at 0630 h the Unit of Wing Commander Anshul Saxena Flying (Pilot) was tasked for a casualty evacuation of an ITBP personnel from Zursar post, situated at a height of 17,000 feet on the Indo-China border. The patient had suffered a major heart attack and needed immediate evacuation to survive. Wing Commander Anshul Saxena took stock of the situation and immediately activated the necessary services for launching the rescue effort. On the day of the planned evacuation the weather in the sector was marginal with poor visibility, strong winds and clouding which added to the extreme challenges of high altitude faced by the pilots, Wg Cdr Saxena took the responsibility to lead a two helicopter formation himself for the rescue in the marginal weather. Quick reaction and exemplary planning by him ensured that the mission was underway in the shortest possible time. The risk and challenges faced in such a high altitude evacuation whilst negotiating poor visibility and heavy turbulence are of a very high order. He has more than 4400 hours of accident/incident free flying over varied and extremely challenging terrain.

Another risk faced by the officer was the proximity of the rescue site to the International border with China and obstructions near the helipad which demanded extremely skillful handling of the helicopter at the limits of flight envelope. While approaching the helipad at an altitude of more than 17,000 feet, the weather deteriorated further and visibility dropped to barely 500 m. Wg Cdr Saxena quickly and correctly assessed the situation. He had the option to turn back as a slight misjudgment could have resulted in an adverse situation. He displayed exceptional courage and took a conscious decision to evacuate the seriously ill ITBP personnel. He advised the other member of the formation to hold clear in the valley while he landed to pick up the casualty. While on short finals to land at the unprepared (kutcha) helipad, there was very limited oxygen, varying winds, turbulence and snow bowl which grossly increased the danger of landing in a high altitude helipad. Displaying courage and superior flying skills in the face of adversity, Wg Cdr Saxena executed a safe landing. After picking up the casualty, he again successfully negotiated marginal weather en-route to land at Loma, where he personally undertook a quick turn-around servicing of the aircraft to continue further flight to Leh. He landed safely at the 153 General Hospital at Leh with the casualty on board. He therefore, kept the highest traditions of IAF and set an example for his subordinates by saving the life of the ill personnel.

For this courageous act of professionalism and undeterred valour in which a precious life was saved by timely evacuation of a combatant from an extremely challenging helipad, Wing Commander Anshul Saxena has been awarded Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).

 

President confers Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to Squadron Leader Rajiv Chauhan Adm/Garud

On 18 Nov 17, on receipt of specific intelligence, an operation was launched jointly by Garud team and 13 RR in village Chanderger, District Bandipora in Jammu & Kashmir. Squadron Leader Rajiv Chauhan Adm/Garud, while leading the Garud team exhibiting exceptional situational awareness and courage, covertly deployed the Garud team in cordon at the target house Wherein suspected terrorists were hiding, and cut off all possible escape routes. While the detachment laid in wait, six terrorists hiding in the house, rushed out, shooting and lobbing grenades at the Garuds. Sensing the intentions of fleeing terrorists, Squadron Leader Chauhan demonstrated indomitable courage, control and admirable leadership in exercising effective and accurate fire by his team on the fleeing terrorists, thereby resulting in shooting down of one category 'A+' and five category 'A' terrorists of LeT. The officer was directly responsible for killing of one category 'A' terrorist named Abu Zurgam (LeT front man in North Kashmir). Disregarding personal safety, he ensured speedy evacuation of the injured men under his command and exhibited admirable leadership in the intensely fought close quarter battle.

For his act of courage, professionalism and leadership in a hostile situation, Squadron Leader Rajiv Chauhan has been awarded Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).

 

President confers Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to Sqn Ldr Kamal Sharma Flying (Pilot)

In Jun 2017, the Chhattisgarh Police and CRPF had launched "Operation Prahar", a major joint operation against Naxalites in Sukma district. Anti Naxal Task Force (ANTF) was involved in large scale troop induction missions and was on hot stand-by at Sukma and Jagdalpur. On 24 Jun 17, a heavy exchange of fire took place between CRPF and the Naxals at Tondamarka located 20 km south of Chintagufa in Sukma, in which five jawans of the Special Task Force (STF) of Chhattisgarh Police were critically injured. Since it was impossible to move the casualties to any nearby helipad, the IAF agreed to evacuate the casualties from the encounter area itself. Sqn Ldr Kamal Sharma Flying (Pilot), an experienced Helicopter Combat Leader was tasked to proceed immediately to Sukma.

Sqn Ldr Sharma assessed the complete situation and took an operational update from SP Sukma. On receiving the go ahead from Task Force Commander, he immediately proceeded to the dangerous conflict zone to land at a designated unprepared landing zone as captain of the lead aircraft, with another helicopter providing overhead escort protection. The weather was inclement and the encounter zone was in thick jungles in an unfamiliar area where the security forces had never ventured earlier. Judiciously avoiding known threat zones and in a display of courage, he safely landed in a small clearing in the encounter zone in the thick jungle and picked up the five casualties. While taking off, the helicopter was fired upon by the Naxalities. There were bullet hits in the cargo compartment and a rotor blade. Notwithstanding the firing on the helicopter, he remained undeterred. He displayed exceptional courage and situational awareness, in maneuvering the helicopter from the firing zone as the safety of the casualties, his crew and the aircraft was paramount in his mind. After ascertaining the aircraft's airworthiness by getting it visually inspected by the escort helicopter, he carried out a safe landing at Sukma. He further ensured that the casualties were promptly moved in the other helicopter to Raipur. By willingly accepting and executing a very high risk mission, saving precious lives and the helicopter, Sqn Ldr Sharma displayed exceptional courage which has special significance not only for the IAF but also for the troops involved in these operations.

For his act of exceptional courage and fortitude in the conduct of a daring mission in Operation Triveni, Squadron Leader Kamal Sharma has been awarded Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).