|Wg Cdr||Darryl Castelino 25107 F(P)||Unit : No.157 Helicopter Unit||Award Date 25 Jun 13||Announced 26 Jan 14|
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Wing Commander Darryl Castelino was detailed as the Captain of the Mi-17 V5 helicopter in the disaster relief operations being undertaken by the Indian Air Force in the hilly terrain of Uttarakhand.
A large number of pilgrims had been stranded in the narrow valleys of Kedarnath, for over five days without food and water. Despite being inducted with very little warning from a different operating area, Wg Cdr Castelino in the spirit of a true air warrior, rose to the occasion and promptly commenced undertaking rescue operations from 21 Jun 2013 onwards. In spite of marginal weather, and lack of experience in the area, within a short span of just four days, the officer flew over 22 critical rescue missions, resulting in saving more than 190 pilgrims who were stranded in the worst affected areas of the Kedarnath valley. The officer’s sense of Zeal and enthusiastic commitment to the noble cause of saving as many lives as possible, motivated his comrades to rise to the requirement of the occasion.
On 25 Jun 2013, Wing Commander Darryl Castelino was tasked to move essential supplies and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams to Kedarnath, located at an elevation of over 11000 feet and rescue stranded pilgrims from Kedarnath during the return sorties. On that day Wg Cdr Castelino carried out three sorties which were undertaken under deteriorating weather conditions. During these three sorties, he was successful in saving of 80 precious lives. Even though weather conditions continued to deteriorate progressively, making flying extremely hazardous, disregarding his personal safety, Wg Cdr Castelino decided to continue with his mission as he realised that every additional shuttle executed would help in saving more lives. Under rapidly darkening skies, the determined officer pressed on with a single minded focus of saving precious lives. During the return leg form Kedarnath to Guptkashi his helicopter impacted on the steep slopes of valley resulting in the office making the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.
Wing Commander Darryl Castelino displayed acts of conspicuous courage, professional competence and valour for undertaking high risk of mission to save precious lives in hostile weather conditions.