On 20th August, 1986, at 1200 hours, a distress message was received from the Sub Collector of 'Elluru' that the flood water, after breach in the bundh of the river, had gushed in submerging the village 'Kottapetta' and cutting it from the rest of the State. Thousands of villagers faced danger to their lives for want of food and essential medicines. Epidemic of cholera was fast spreading in the village. It was essential to drop the medicines and food supplies in the village without any loss of time. The work was entrusted to Squadron Leader Devinder Singh Khajuria, Flight Engineer Leader. Immediately a helicopter was loaded with necessary medicines and food packets and took off for this important mission. While approaching the village the Flight Gunner tried to open the exit door to drop the essential medicines and food supplies but found that the door jammed in the closed position. All his efforts to release the latch failed. Releasing the gravity of the situation, Squadron Leader Khajuria immediately left his seat and rushed to the cargo compartment, opened a side window noticed that the metal block on the exit door had been bent and had got stuck in the groove. Since the area was completely submerged under a sheet of water, there was no place at all the land the helicopter. Squadron Leader Khajuria took upon himself the hazardous task of releasing the locking mechanism from outside the helicopter in flight. Exhibiting exceptional courage and at great personal risk, he put his head out of side window and with more than half of his body outside the helicopter against the heavy rotor downwash and air flow in flight, made a valiant effort to reach the door locking metal block but did not succeed. He instructed the flight gunner and ejection crew to hold his legs and extending his body further out of the helicopter, he could reach the bent latch. He doggedly carried on working on the latch and after a lapse of almost five minutes of flight, finally succeeded in straightening it out and thus releasing the locking mechanism to the marooned villagers' in time.
Squadron Leader Devinder Singh Khajuria thus displayed dogged determination, dauntless courage and high professional acumen.