India honours its heroes! On the occasion of the 68th Republic Day, four IAF pilots have been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry. Displaying exceptional courage, these IAF pilots and their acts of bravery will leave you feeling super proud! Squadron Leader Ramesh Verma, Wing Commander Sukhwinder Singh Multani, Squadron Leader Rijul Sharma and Squadron Leader Vikas Puri saved many lives, protected national assets from potential damage – all this at great risk to their own lives! We describe for you their acts of valour that sure to make your head spin! A salute to their patriotism!
Squadron Leader Ramesh Verma – Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry
Squadron Leader Ramesh Verma has been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry for displaying exceptional courage and bravery during a battle inoculation mission, by Dark Night. According to the IAF, while carrying the attack profile, the front canopy of the aircraft burst and Squadron Leader Ramesh Verma suffered grave injuries in his neck and right shoulder. The aircraft was very close to Bareilly and any ejection would not only have caused loss of the aircraft, but also led to great damage on ground.
Despite a bleeding wound, pain and stiffness in his right shoulder, he lowered his seat, selected the dark visor down and initiated recovery keeping clear of populated area.
Wing Commander Sukhwinder Singh Multani – Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry
Squadron Leader SS Multani (Now Wing Commander) was tasked with dousing a forest fire on Trikuta hill which was fast approaching the Vaishno Devi shrine. By the time he reached the site, the fire had turned into an inferno and was only 100m from the main walkway to the shrine, endangering the lives of thousands of pilgrims. The fire on a steep slope was inaccessible to the fire fighters on ground.
SS Multani identified a reservoir of Salal Dam at Riasi as a potential source for filling up water. “Reduced visibility due to smoke, excessive turbulence and limited turn radius reduced any margin of error as the aircraft had to be operated at its maximum capacity. The alignment of the fire line required the water drop to be carried out in a direction facing into the hill, making it dangerously difficult unlike other fire fighting operations,” lauds IAF. Also, the bunch cable holding the Bambi bucket got entangled, making it impossible to fill up water. Multani then went on to locate a restricted but clear patch next to the reservoir and with no assistance available on ground to secure the Bambi, he deftly manoeuvered the aircraft to land safely. He was able to douse the fire, preventing a major catastrophe.
Squadron Leader Rijul Sharma – Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry
During an air test sortie on MiG 29 aircraft, the canopy perspex of the aircraft shattered. Squadron Leader Rijul Sharma was hit by perspex pieces on his right shoulder. Weighing against the option of ejecting and displaying courage of an exceptional order, he decided to recover the aircraft.
Not wanting to endanger other lives and national assets, Squadron Leader Rijul Sharma avoided flying close to oil installations which were enroute and populated areas. He managed to not only save the aircraft, but also prevented possible catastrophic damage to en-route strategically important and vital petrochemical installations and populated areas.
Squadron Leader Vikas Puri – Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry
Squadron Leader Vikas Puri was flying a Mi-17 helicopter from Shillong to Tezpur with AOC-in-C, HQ EAC and other senior officials on board. His aircraft experienced fuel booster pump failure.
Displaying exceptional courage, astute technical knowledge and exceptional crew coordination he recovered the aircraft safely by force landing it. He saved sixteen invaluable lives and also a precious war waging asset.