Squadron Leader Francis John Williams was engaged in the flood relief operations in West Bengal when, on 3rd September, 1978, he received information that a marooned family was perched on top of a thatched hut surrounded by swirling water of river Kasai. A portion of the hut had already collapsed and, due to its continuous lashing by the waters of flooded river, the lives of the members of the family were in danger and their evacuation was necessary. This was a hazardous task as there was water and trees around the hut. However, he reached the area in a float modified Chetak helicopter. He went down on a float and hung himself against the 'step'. He pulled out the winch cable and threw it to the bewildered people. Explaining in sign language and with the help of an inflated tube, he pulled in eight emaciated individuals, including seven babies, in the first attempt. The helicopter repeated the mission three times to carry out the recovery of all twenty one trapped people.
In this action, Squadron Leader Francis John Williams displayed great courage, determination and professional skill of a very high order.