| Squadron Leader Rakshale Sanjeev Kumar (19037) Aeronautical Engineering (Electronics) is posted as a Senior Technical Officer at a Helicopter unit since 23 September 2002. |
On 21 November 2003, a Cheetah helicopter of this unit faced control problems and force landed at an altitude of 17,200 feet near a forward post in the Siachen glacier close to the AGPL. The helicopter remained overnight in glacier and its retrieval very next day was inescapable as further delay would have resulted in oil and lubricants getting solidified and helicopter getting submerged under snow due to bad weather resulting in loss of the entire helicopter worth crores. It was under such circumstances that Squadron Leader RS Kumar volunteered to take on the daunting and challenging task of recovering this helicopter. He landed at the crash site the very next day without any acclimatization, which could have caused him a permanent disability or even death. After required checks and rectification the major task was to get the aircraft started. Starting at such altitude calls for innovation and use of unorthodox measures, something not taught at any training institute or in any manual and required an active and fertile mind. Use of petrol in the fuel filter and blowing of oxygen into the air intakes helped to achieve successful start to aero engine and subsequent retrieval of a fully serviceable aircraft, which was otherwise destined to be a beacon in the glacier. He also displayed exemplary courage by opting to fly back as a passenger in the same aircraft, a tribute to his belief in himself. He was thus responsible for the recovery of the strike helicopter.
For this act of exemplary courage and dedicated professionalism wherein he risked his own life to save an aircraft worth crores to exchequer, the Hon`ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to Squadron Leader Rakshale Sanjeev Kumar.