| Wing Commander Nikhil Shrikant Purandare (23792) was commissioned in the Indian Air Force as a pilot in the flying branch on 16 Dec 95 and is commanding a frontline Mi-17 VS helicopter unit since 31 Mar 14. He is a Helicopter Combat Leader and has over 5900 hrs of flying to his credit on all types of helicopters. The Officer has flown in all the terrains of the country and seen numerous operations. He has more than 1000 hrs to his credit in the Siachen Glacier. During Op Rahat in 2013, as Flight Commander, he rejoined from leave and stepped forward to take charge in the aftermath of the ill fated crash of a helicopter of his unit. He led from the front amidst the gloom and low morale and paved the way ahead by resuming landing operations within hours of giving shoulder to his deceased comrades. Since taking over the unit, it has been his endeavour to consolidate op potential of the unit and accomplish all tasks assigned in most professional manner. He has carried out trials on all helipads for NVG operations and was also selected to be a part of Indo- Russian joint exercise. During Op Megh Rahat, the Unit under the leadership of Wg Cdr PS Nikhil undertook one of the largest Rescue Relief Operation ever carried out in an urban area. A staggering 340 missions were flown in a matter of five days to rescue thousands of people and drop relief material. What made the operation unique and challenging was the fact that 1283 people had to be evacuated essentially through winching from precarious roof tops in a dense urban environment amid obstructions. The fact that Unit could achieve this feat incident free with limited aircrew and no established procedures! precedence speaks volumes of his leadership. His innovativeness and tenacity in devising Air Operation Procedures, entry exit points, advising the ATC on procedural control specific to the rotary wing in midst of heavy density of traffic, inclement weather, hostile elements on ground and limited time window ensured incident free flying. Amidst this operation, he was tasked as Task Force Commander for all Mi-17 operations in the Ladakh region to tackle certain intrusions. An officer who believes in 'Ductus Exemplo' he has the unique persona and ability to motivate and more importantly lead his men to achieve the extraordinary. For exceptional devotion to duty, Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty) to Wing Commander Nikhil Shrikant Purandare.