Wing Commander Michael Fernandez (16967) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the Flying Branch of the IAF on 29 Dec 1982. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor and an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College. Presently he is the Commanding Officer of a fighter Squadron wef 28 Jun 2001.
A few months into his command, post 9/11, the Sqn mounted live Operational Readiness Platform (ORP) and stayed almost continuously on alert until deployed for 'Op Parakram' in mid-December. While deployed, the squadron participated in every command level exercise in every role from live ground attack missions to Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) Combat Air Patrols to Counter Surface Forces Operations strikes to heavy armament loading exercises and acquitted themselves commendably under Wg Cdr M Fernandez's leadership. All this while the Sqn was also carrying out live ORP. Under his guidance, the unit devised a high altitude release sighting technique to overcome the inherent limitations of the aircraft's gunsight with appreciable results. It was also under his command that the fleet dropped live armament by night for the first time. Though severely constrained in terms of aircrew and technical officer strength, he managed to operate his operational detachments efficiently undertaking all assigned tasks. This included successful operation of a two aircraft ORP from the civil airfield at Ahmedabad on a trial basis. With his leadership and motivational skills he had groups of the Sqn's Tech Flight keenly volunteering to be despatched to the op location, thereby allowing the Sqn's Daily Servicing Section (DSS) personnel adequate rotation to spend time at home base. This did wonders for the unit's morale. He enthused his Sqn members to envision the future and innovate in several areas - the most notable one being the use of the hand held Global Positioning System (GPS) as a combat debrief tool. Besides maintaining a high serviceability state throughout his tenure, an average of 62% for fighters and 74% for trainers, also achieved 100% serviceability in Jan 2003.
In Jan 2003, with no warning, the unit was inspected by Directorate of Air Staff Inspection (DASI), after almost a decade, two changes in location and a change in role. With absolutely no past indications for guidance, Wg Cdr Fernandez led his unit to achieve 'high average' in all the three prongs while the squadron flew every conceivable type of mission, be it air defence or ground attack.
For his exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Wing Commander Michael Fernandez.