Vayu Sena Medal Awardee List for the year 2005


A total of 31 Awards are listed.
Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) : 31 |
Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Wg Cdr Shashi Kant Mishra 19570 F(P)Unit : -N.A.- Award Date 15 Dec 03 Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Squadron Leader Shashi Kant Mishra (19570) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of a Helicopter unit since 27 April 2003 as Flight Commander.

The unit took part in 'Op Fort William' in Bhutan, during December 2003. On 15 Dec 2003, Sqn Ldr Mishra was tasked to evacuate critically injured Royal Bhutanese Army jawans in the operation against terrorists.

Sqn Ldr Mishra, gauging correctly the urgency and gravity of the situation, acted in a swift and professional manner. He planned and executed the casualty evacuation himself within fifteen minutes of the receipt of the message. Unmindful of the risk involved, he undertook the sortie in hostile terrain and under small arms fire of the militia. His prompt and timely action not only saved the lives of seven critically injured soldiers from Nanglam helipad in Bhutan but also boosted the morale of the soldiers of a friendly country. The professionalism and courage displayed by Sqn Ldr Mishra has enhanced the image of the Indian Air Force.

For displaying courage in hostile conditions, the Hon`ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to Squadron Leader Shashi Kant Mishra.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Avaneesh Kumar Upadhaya 19893 F(P)Unit : No.132 FAC Flight  Award Date 02 Apr 04 Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Squadron Leader Avaneesh Kumar Upadhyay (19893) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of 132 FAC Flt AF since 29 April 2003 as Flight Commander.On 02 Apr 04 Squadron Leader Upadhyay was nominated as the Task Force Commander for search and rescue (SAR) of two Jaguar aircrafts of the Indian Air Force. These fighter aircrafts had been reported missing while carrying valley flying in Sonamarg Sector near Srinagar.

Squadron Leader Upadhyay displayed exceptional skill, courage and leadership in ensuring the successful conduct of the missions. He led his team from the front and carried out the first landing at the crash site unmindful of the hazardous weather, inhospitable terrain, intense cold at the dizzying heights of more than thirteen thousand feet on an unprepared snow covered and undulating hill slope.

He carried out 18 gruelling missions in the face of inclement weather. It was due to his exemplary courage, skill and expertise in managing his men and machines that he was able to locate and land at the crash site, induct the ground rescue parties and evacuate the evidence and mortal remains of the Jaguar pilots. Under his guidance the team carried out total 36 missions, flying for a total of 21.45 hrs ensuring successful completion of the rescue mission against the adverse conditions of weather and hazardous terrain.

For this act of exceptional courage and exemplary leadership in the face of adverse and inhospitable environment, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu. Sena Medal' (Gallantry) to Squadron Leader Avaneesh Kumar Upadhyay.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Manu Chaudhry 19896 F(P)Unit : MONUC  Award Date 29 May 04 Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Squadron Leader Manu Chaudhary (19896) Flying (Pilot) has been on the posted strength of Indian Air Force Squadron 2004, part of IAF Contingent in Congo since 13 Jul 2003. During this period he has been performing the duties of the Squadron Flight Commander.

A Qualified Flying Instructor with over 4500 hours of flying experience, the officer has consistently displayed a penchant for leading from the front. Since the squadron's induction to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he has flown over 290 hours and has time and again exhibited willingness for undertaking difficult tasks, when called upon to do so. In the initial phase of the Contingent's induction, he personally reconnoitred the area, selecting helipads for future operations. Most of these helipads were in areas never hitherto visited by UN forces and were controlled by various rebel groups, some inimical to the UN. He also actively participated in Operation Dhanush in May-June 04.

On 29 May 04, following the unrest in the town of Bukavu, Kelehe, a small hamlet on the road from Goma to Bukam was the scene of an ambush laid out by militia in which they killed one UN military observer while another, a lady officer was reported missing. Sqn Ldr Chaudhary was tasked to insert troops to search for the missing military observer. While the Mi-25s fired some rockets to sanitise the area, the Mi-17, captained by Sqn Ldr Chaudhary landed the search party comprising 36 troops, in two shuttles. With little regard to personal safety, the officer landed at the site, which the rebels, armed with rocket propelled grenades and other heavy calibre weapons, could have targeted from a vantage point close by. Had it not been for the search party being inserted in time, the marooned officer would not have been rescued. The missing lady officer was subsequently rescued, albeit badly injured and in a state of shock. In the glorious traditions of the Indian Air Force, the officer planned the mission meticulously and carried it out with the elan and professionalism. that epitomizes the officer's approach to his duty.

For consistently exhibiting courage in hostile environment, the Hon'bie President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to Squadron Leader Manu Chaudhary.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Kolal Krishnamurthy Venugopal 20459 F(P)Unit : Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment  Award Date 29 May 04 Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Squadron Leader Kolal Krishnamurthy Venugopal (20459) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of Aircraft System and Training Establishment (ASTE) since 29 June 1998 as Test Pilot & Chief of Trial Team SARAS.

In Jan 02, ASTE was formally tasked to undertake flight testing of the Saras Light Transport Aircraft (LTA~ pro~ being indigenously designed and developed by National Aeronautics Laboratory (NAL). Sqn Ldr Venugopal, then a test flying instructor at AFTPS was specifically chosen to head the Saras test team on account of his flight test experience a project pilot for evaluating Executive Jets for the Air Force. This was an extremely challenging task as the Saras had a unique rear mounted pusher prop configuration and was the first indigenous LTA programme. With his maturity and personal involvement he was instrumental in finalisation of all the necessary documentation and coï·“ordination with Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) as the team leader. He was directly responsible for finalisation of cockpit man machine interface and safety audit of the aircraft and its systems. He was also instrumental in planning, review, approval and execution of the entire test programme. He oversaw the continuity training and preparation of the other crew members of the team for the demanding task of undertaking the first flight and further evaluation of Saras ac. His dedication and hard work were commended and lauded by all the senior functionaries of NAL and MCA.

On 29 May 04, the first Saras Prototype took off on its first flight. First flight of a prototype aircraft is always a high risk proposition. The lack of an engineering test simulator, made the execution of first flight even more challenging. Soon after take off, the crew experienced Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) and angle of attack indication failure, thereby losing vital flight information. Coupled to this, the aircraft experienced mild vibrations due to opening of the refuelling panel in flight. As the Captain of aircraft Sqn Ldr Venugopal maintained his cool and rose to the challenge of having to deal with a serious emergency on a prototype aircraft on its first flight. He exhibited exceptional professionalism and courage in handling the emergency and recovering the aircraft safely.

For displaying professionalism and courage, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to Squadron Leader Kolal Krishnamurthy Venugopal.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Randhir Singh 22345 F(P)Unit : No.132 FAC Flight  Award Date 02 Apr 04 Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Squadron Leader Randhir Singh (22345) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of a frontline helicopter unit since 24 December 2001.

Between 02 Apr 04 to 05 Apr 04 Squadron Leader Randhir Singh was entrusted with the task of Search and Rescue (SAR) of two missing IAF Jaguar Fighter aircrafts in Sonamarg sector of J & K. In the shortest time, he reached the expected location and commenced his SAR operations. Gauging the hazardous weather at the location in his Cheetah SAR helicopter vis-a-vis the gravity of the mission, he discounted the risks involved. Even in the inclement weather, intense cold and dizzying heights, he undertook twenty-six missions involving more than eighteen hours of flying. It was only due to his expertise, unflinching courage and determination that he succeeded in locating the crash site and carrying out landings at an un-prepared snow-covered and undulating hill slope at more than thirteen thousand feet Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL).

Utterly unmindful of his personal safety and persisting on with his courageous efforts he kept the success of the mission paramount, while retrieving the mortal remains of the pilots along with other circumstantial evidence, from an extremely hazardous crash site.

For this act of exceptional courage, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal' (Gallantry) to Squadron Leader Randhir Singh.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Gp Capt Sridhara Panicker Radha Krishnan Nair 16040 F(P)Unit : No.44 Squadron  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Group Captain Sridhara Panicker Radhakrishnan Nair (16040) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 15 Jun 1980. He is commanding the only strategic airlift squadron of the IAF since Mar 03. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor. His past appointments include Flight Commander of one of a premier transport squadron and Chief Operations Officer of an active base. He has over 6700 hours of accident free flying.As FIt Cdr, he has been in the forefront of path breaking landing trials to high altitude forward area airfields in Ladakh sector by night. This new found capability to mobilise men and material to mifitady sensitive and inhospitable terrain by night has added to the combat potential of our forces. During Ex-Safed Sagar, his meticulous planning and personal flying effort found him worthy of being 'Mentioned in Despatches'. He was instrumental in the Squadron being adjudged the 'Best Transport Combat Squadron' for two years in succession.On taking over command, he was given the onerous task of relocating the squadron. Due to his farsightedness, methodical approach and immaculate planning, the move was completed ahead of schedule, whilst continuing to remain operational and undertaking all commitments during the entire move. Despite manpower constraints, he maintained a sharp focus on training and steadily built up the training team. He converted 37 aircrew on type and also achieved high operational status in a relatively short period.As team leader and captain of the first aircraft which took part in Ex Cope Thunder in USA in the year 2003, he displayed sterling qualities of leadership and thorough professionalism which brought accolades to the IAF. It was his brainchild to pioneer a flight to the North Pole, set an endurance record by IL-76 aircraft and circumnavigate the globe. These three records and the exceptional performance during the exercise have found a place in the glorious history of the IAF. Also, the transpolar capability he established, has added a new dimension to the strategic reach of the IAF. On his return from Alaska, he once again spurred his team to achieve exceptional standards and win the 'best Transport Combat Squadron' trophy of the IAF.For his exceptional devotion to duty and leadership, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Group Captain Sridhara Panicker Radhakrishnan Nair.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Gp Capt Shouvik Roy 16088 F(P)Unit : No.78 Squadron  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Group Captain Shouvik Roy (16088) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 15 Jun 1980. He is Commanding Officer of the first Flight Refueller Aircraft (FRA) squadron of the IAF since 16 Dec 02. A Qualified Flying Instructor with more than 7000 hours of flying experience in multifarious roles, he has held several important appointments that include Instructor at Flying Instructors School, Chief Flying Instructor at Basic Flying Training School arid Commanding Officer of South Western Air Command Communication Flight.As the first Commanding Officer of the squadron with newly acquired force multiplier aircraft, he had a series of arduous and challenging tasks ahead of him. Leading from the front and working tirelessly for long hours much beyond the call of duty, Gp Capt Roy ensured that the squadron was fully operational with its role in the shortest possible time. This involved extensive coï·“ordination with various Fighter Squadrons, Stations, Command HQ and Air HQ to be followed by sorties of long duration with a variety of fighter aircraft. With his inï·“depth knowledge and sound professionalism he formalised various operating procedures, which are being regularly practiced to exploit the immense potential of the FRA. While expanding the scope of FRA utilisation, he has effectively dovetailed the training of newly inducted aircrew. His relentless efforts have added the midï·“air refuelling capability, which the IAF was proud to showcase during the Air Force Day and also on the Republic Day. His professional competence, administrative acumen and leadership qualities make him a role model for everyone to emulate.For his exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Group Captain Shouvik Roy.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Gp Capt Sunil Jayant Nanodkar 16555 F(P)Unit : Air Head Quarters  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Group Captain Sunil Jayant Nanodkar (16555) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the fighter stream of the IAF on 11 Dec 1981. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor with 3800 hours of flying. He is also a graduate from the Defence Services Staff College. He has successfully commanded a Jaguar Squadron. Presently, he is Director of Operations (Offensive) at Air HQ since Jul 2003ï·“On being appointed as the Director of Operations (Tactical) in Jul 2003, apart from monitoring the training and operational status of all the offensive aircraft fleets of the Indian Air Force, he was assigned the task of leading the team of air warriors to participate in a multinational exercise in Alaska, United States of America. This involved activities from initial planning of operations, maintenance, logistics and administrative requirements for a first ever fighter deployment outside India. The exercise entailed deploying six Jaguar aircraft, two IL-78 Flight Refuellers and two IL-76 heavy lift transport support aircraft across four continents, at a distance of 20000 kilometers from the homeland. He took on the challenge and meticulously planned the training of participating forces and their deployment to and from Alaska. Coordinating activities of transport, flight refueller and fighter aircraft away from homeland was a complex task and could only be achieved due to his foresight analytical approach and thorough planning. Having successfully and safely executed this exercise, a template has been put in place for the Indian Air Force to follow in any such future endeavour. This has also resulted in projection of cutting edge operational capability before the developed Air Forces. While undertaking this additional responsibility, he continued to closely monitor the upgrade programmes of two major fighter fleets along with their induction in the operational units.For his professionalism and exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Group Captain Sunil Jayant Nanodkar.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Hemant Narayan Bhagwat 16423 ADMUnit : Para Training School  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Hemant Narayan Bhagwat (16423) Administration/Para Jump Instructor is on the posted strength of Paratroopers Training School, Air Force since 23 Aug 1999 and has been performing the duties of Chief Instructor (Cl).Wg Cdr Bhagwat has been an impetus and a driving force for all the paratroopers of PTS. In Jul 2002, Paratroopers Training School was given a challenging task ta evaluate efficacy of live para jumps from a height of 300 feet, using the GQ-8 low level parachute. Hitherto, no Indian had jumped from a height below 500 feet because, should the main parachute malfunction, para descent from 500 feet does not give the jumper any time to deploy his reserve chute. Accepting this demanding and high-risk challenge as Chief Instructor of the school, Wg Cdr Bhagwat worked out a systematic trial method and supervised its successful execution. Keeping in with the highest traditions of the IAF, and unmindful of his personal safety, on 29 Jul 2002, Wg Cdr Bhagwat became theï·“firstï·“ ever Indian parachutist to jump from a height of 300 feet.. He successfully demonstrated to other trial team members, the efficacy of the parachute descent from this ultra low level.Wg Cdr Bhagwat exhibits exemplary courage and undertakes the specialized job with a high degree of dedication. His efforts enabled the PTS to achieve a new landmark of 38,897 jumps during the year 2003-04, adequately adhering to the safety parameters.Besides being a Para Jumping Instructor par excellence with over 2000 parachute descents to his credit, including in excess of 1400 free fall jumps, as Chief Instructor of Paratroopers Training School, Wg Cdr Bhagwat has contributed significantly to enhance the quality of para training being imparted by the school.For displaying exceptional professional courage, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Wing Commander Hemant Narayan Bhagwat.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Nayani Harish 17135 F(P)Unit : No.3 Squadron  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Nayani Harish (17135) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the flying branch of the LAF on 28 May 1983. He is commanding Officer of a frontline fighter squadron since 05 Dec 2002.Wg Cdr Harish took over command of the Squadron at a critical juncture when the squadron was in the process of inducting the Bison aircraft. At that time, the fleet was beset by teething problems and frequent snags with an overall serviceability in the region of 30%. Utilizing his experience as a Test Pilot and technical knowledge of the aircraft and its systems, he responded to the clarion call and dealt with the problem at hand with professionalism. With commendable foresight and clarity of thought he adopted a proï·“active approach and kept higher formations informed of the problem and suggested viable solutions. As a result of his untiring efforts, the serviceability state of the squadron improved drastically and presently stands at an average of 70%.The induction of the Bison aircraft ushered in advanced systems and weapons into the service. With sustained involvement and determination, Wg Cdr Harish formulated sound standard operating procedures and checklists to effectively utilise the aircraft as a weapons system. A large number of pilots were successfully converted onto the type and were distributed to other Bison squadrons to propagate the knowledge and training thus gained. The success and high professional standards displayed by the squadron in various exercises at national as well as international level stand testimony to the professionalism and dedication of the officer. The officer also formulated a detailed Air Test Proforma to be followed for the Bison aircraft.For his professionalism, dedication and exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu. Sena Medal to Wing Commander Nayani Harish.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Sreekumar Prabhakaran 17318 F(P)Unit : Suryakiran  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Sreekumar Prabhakaran (17318) flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 22 Dec 1983. He is on the posted strength of Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) as Commanding Officer since May 2002.He has led the SKAT with distinction, carrying out a total of 56 displays in all corners of the country and abroad. He ensuredï·“ that the team was highly motivated at all times. Leading the nine member aerobatic team, he displayed confidence, precision and flying skills of the highest order. He ensured that the team always practiced thoroughly before each display and subsequently operated at its best during the displays. Their aerobatic displays have helped greatly in motivating the youth in all parts of the country towards joining the Indian Air Force. The SKAT display during Exercise VAM SHAKTI over Pokharan on 14 Mar 2004 was also highly appreciated by both Indian and foreign spectators. During February ï·“ March 2004, he led the SKAT on its maiden visit abroad to participate in the Asian Aerospace Air Show at Singapore from 24ï·“29 February 2004. The ferry flight to and from Singapore required detailed planning and coordination with various agencies in different countries. This was meticulously done under the leadership of Wg Cdr Prabhakaran, and the SKAT maintained their planned schedule immaculately. During the Air Show at Singapore, the team lead by him carried out five aerobatic displays, while one display each was carried out at Bangkok and Yangon on the way to/from Singapore. All these seven displays were carried out meticulously and with precision in front of thousands of spectators. With their breathtaking displays, the SKAT brought laurels to the country and to the Indian Air Force.For the leadership and exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Wing Commander Sreekumar Prabhakaran.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr S Hari Krishnan Nair 17338 F(P)Unit : Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander S Hari Krishnan Nair (17338) flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 22 Dec 1983. He is the Commanding Officer of a Helicopter Unit since 16 Jun 2003.Immediately after he took over, the unit was reï·“tasked to create a formation display team [Sarangs] with a view to perform before international audience at Singapore during Asian Aerospace 04. To accomplish this task five additional pilots were posted in to fill in the cockpit vacancies. Considering the short time available, it was a major task to convert these pilots and train them to perform a world class formation display. In addition, the degree of difficulty of the assigned task was not known since Indian Air Force was attempting such a venture for the first time and there are very few helicopter display teams in the world. Notwithstanding these limitations, he undertook the challenge in his stride.Wg Cdr Nair carried out immaculate planning regarding the airlift of five helicopters from Bangalore to Singapore and back. He accompanied the helicopters with a small team of technicians to ensure complete safety during the move. At Singapore the aircraft were built up in a record two days time, ready for the air show. The air show was at a foreign base, over sea and restricted airspace. In addition, stringent aviation regulations were imposed by the host country as per their procedure. He modeled the air display to suit all the conditions and ensured perfect display, which drew appreciation from A foreign dignitaries, international media and the general public. The entire exercise went through without even an incident. The performance was applauded by the press and other participants. As a special gesture, the US MoD sent a note of appreciation to Air HQ on the team's performance. Appreciation of other foreign military heads was also conveyed personally to the Chief of the Air Staff during his visit on the inaugural day of the Air Show.For his exceptional devotion to duty, initiative and performance, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Wing Commander S Hari Krishnan Nair.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Sandesh Prabhakar Wagle 17710 F(P)Unit : 104 HU  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Sandesh Prabhakar Wagle (17710) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 21 Dec 1984. He has more than 5400 hours of accident free flying to his credit. He is Commanding Officer of a frontline Attack Helicopter Squadron since 30 Jun 2003.Wg Cdr Wagle took over the command of the Squadron at a crucial juncture when the Sqn aircraft were being modernized with State of the Art equipment. His leadership and motivation were manifested in the smooth and speedy absorption of the high technology in the squadron. With the successful integration and assimilation of the cutting edge technology, the IAF can now boast of operating one of the most lethal Attack Helicopters in the world.The squadron was beset by various maintenance problems when tools and testers from the squadron were sent to Congo to support the maintenance requirements of the UN mission there. Wg Cdr Wagle became the driving force behind various inï·“house solutions and innovations to overcome these deficiencies and yet sustained a very high serviceability of aircraft, often reaching 100% for sustained periods. The Sqn performed exceptionally during all inspections including three inspections by the Directorate of Air Staff Inspection team and the squadron was declared the Best Combat Helicopter Squadron of the IAF.For his exceptional devotion to duty and inspiring leadership, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal' to Wing Commander Sandesh Prabhakar Wagle.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Umesh Rakhra 18071 F(P)Unit : No.24 Squadron  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Umesh Rakhra (18071) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 06 Dec 1985. He has a total flying experience of 1700 hr on type and a cumulative flying experience of 3760 hr. He has been and Commanding Officer of a frontline fighter Squadron since Sep 2002.As Commanding Officer, Wg Cdr Rakhra dedicated himself in achieving high operational status of the squadron. He was trained on type aircraft in Russia in 1997. He has been personally involved in conducting the training of more than 70 pilots of this type. As a lowï·“level aerobatics display supervisor, he had flown more than 225 lowï·“level aerobatics display sorties and trained three pilots in this role. He was the member of close formation aerobatics team on type in 2001. He is also the instrument rating examiner on type.During "Op Parakrarn" Wg Cdr Rakhra ensured high state of Op capability of the Sqn and the Sqn was the forerunner in execution of special missions related to the "Op Parakrarn". He produced Ops aircrew. on time to meet the requirements of the fleet. Under his command the Sqn has been the steppingï·“stone for induction and has performed exceptionally well inspite of manpower constraints created due to routing of aircrew and ground crew to other Sqns. The Sqn has gone on to fly 12500 accident free hours in the period under consideration. He put in concerted efforts in maintaining the equipment deployed at Op locations at all times and the Sqn still continues to be on 12h standby since Op Parakram.Under his able guidance and leadership the Squadron has moved to a new location at a short notice, which required considerable coordination and planning.For his exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Wing Commander Umesh Rakhra.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Sanjay Anand Kunte 18073 F(P)Unit : No.127 Helicopter Unit  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Sanjay Anand Kunte (18073) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 06 Dec 1985. He is the commanding officer of a helicopter unit since 05 August 2002.In Jun 03, Eastern Air Command (EAC) was tasked with preparing for 'Op Fort William'. This included coordinating the joint planning and training of a large number of army troops and aircrew of the three helicopter units of EAC. It also involved formulating innovative tactics especially with Night Vision Goggles (NVG). Being the only NVG supervisor in EAC, Wg Cdr Kunte singleï·“handedly took on the task of imparting NVG training to pilots of EAC. His farsightedness, flawless planning and eye for detail were instrumental in his being selected as Task Force Commander for the operations. He planned and executed training of 3600 troops and 60 aircrew at various locations in the Northï·“East. He played an important role in formulating the appreciation and detailed plan of action for the operations.During the actual deployment phase of the operations, Wg Cdr Kunte displayed very high degree of professionalism and coordinated the move of units and execution of the plan in an absolute flawless manner, which was appreciated by the Chief of Army Staff and Headquarters of Royal Bhutan Army. This resulted in the Air Force and Army gaining immense goodwill of the Bhutanese authorities.For exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Wing Commander Sanjay Anand Kunte.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Kishore Kumar Khera 18256 F(P)Unit : No.14 Squadron  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Kishore Kumar Khera (18256) Flying (pilot) was commissioned on 07 Jun 1986. He is Commanding Officer of a fighter Sqn with effect from 07 Jul 2003.Wg Cdr Khera was selected to lead the Jaguar team for participation in Exercise Cope Thunder in Alaska, USA from 07ï·“30 Jul 2004. The team was expected to take part in this multinational exercise involving eleven countries. A total of fifteen Jaguar pilots, two engineering officers and sixtyï·“five technicians from five different squadrons and three Jaguar bases were placed under his command for this purpose. He integrated all personnel selected for the mission into an efficient and well trained team. The training was carried out in a very systematic fashion spread over six phases from Feb 04 to May 04 making optimum use of available resources. The aircrew training involving inter revalidation, inter variant conversion, AAR qualification, ILS/VOR and TACAN training was executed in a professional manner. The team performed creditably during the exercise and kept the IAF flag ï·“flying high.The most significant part of preparation was maintenance planning for the mission. This was the first time that the IAF was deploying its combat aircraft for an exercise abroad and planning had to cater for all contingencies in terms of spares, support equipment and optimal utilization of all available resources at hand. This led to realization of afl set objectives, and flawless execution of the mission as planned.For his professionalism and exceptional devotion to duty, the HonIle President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Wing Commander Kishore Kumar Khera.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Mohan Gupta 18562 F(P)Unit : 37 Wing  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Mohan Gupta (18562) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 06 Dec 1986 in the IAF He is posted as a Chief Operations Officer at Air Force Station Car Nicobar with effect from 23 Jun 03.On 08 Oct 03, at 0925 h, he received a message that the Adventure Expedition at the Galathea river in the Great Nicobar Island was more than 18 hours overdue. Reacting to an emergent situation he immediately tasked the Base Helicopter Unit to launch the rescue helicopter. Ensuring no delay, the helicopter was airborne within thirty minutes of the receipt of the message with Wg Cdr Gupta as captain. On landing at Campbell Bay, even though limited details of the expedition were available with the local Detachment Commander, he and his crew worked out the possible route taken by the expedition members. He then took off for the rescue with emergency rations and medical supplies. He ensured that a proper briefing was carried out for effective and optimum crew utilisation.The entire route was in a hilly terrain with dense foliage, which made ground observation very difficult. Through initially no results were achieved he persisted with the search, effectively utilizing each member of his crew to finally spot the team twelve kilometers from their planned RV point. The team was in a deep narrow valley with tall trees ranging from 25 to 100 meters height on either side. This precluded a landing. He assessed the situation and decided to winch up the personnel. Variable winds and limited tip clearance of only five to ten meters made the task extremely demanding and challenging. Displaying a very high level of flying accuracy, concentration and crew resource management in this environment, all the fifteen members were successfully winched up. They were provided initial nourishment and brought back safely.For his exceptional devotion to duty and professional acumen in executing the rescue mission, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Wing Commander Mohan Gupta.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Ravi Khanna 18565 F(P)Unit : No.6 Squadron  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : Wing Commander Ravi Khanna (18565) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 06 Dec 1986. He was posted as Commanding Officer of a Fighter Squadron with effect from 23 Jul 2003.Wg Cdr Khanna was a thorough professional and he led his squadron competently. Under his leadership the unit not only accomplished all assigned tasks to perfection, it also set an example for others to emulate. During Eklavya 2003, the Squadron bagged five trophies out of a total seven and was adjudged overall best in the gunnery meet. The Squadron came first in three team events of which he led one and participated in another. It was also declared as the best Fighter Squadron in the Indian Air Force.As Commanding Officer of the unit, he had taken the Squadron to participate in the prestigious exercise Vayu Shaktiï·“04'. On 26 Feb 04, he was authorized to fly as No. 3 in a four aircraft formation that was to drop 1000 pound retarded bomb over Pokhran Range as part of a battle inoculation exercise. During the mission, after release, the bomb exploded in air very close to the aircraft causing the aircraft to disintegrate, resulting in fatal injuries to Wg Cdr Khanna. Throughout his tenure as Squadron Commander, he insisted on maintaining the unit at a high level of professional standard.For his exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal to Wing Commander Ravi Khanna (Posthumously).
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
JWO Surendra Kumar 668479 ORUnit : No.122 Helicopter Flight  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 05
Details : 668479 Junior Warrant Officer Surendra Kumar Mohanty Flight Gunner is on the posted strength of a Helicopter unit in Andaman and Nicobar island since 22 Apr 2002.On 08 Oct 03 at 0925 h, after being detailed as the Flight Gunner on a mercy mission for the rescue of fifteen members of the expedition on the Galathea river in the Great Nicobar island, JWO Mohanty promptly reacted to the emergent situation and ensured that the helicopter was loaded with the requisite survival equipment and emergency food and water in the minimum possible time.Due to his vast experience as a Flight Gunner, JWO Mohanty was able to provide valuable inputs to the captain during the.crew briefing prior to the mission. During the search, he displayed keen observation and high situational awareness in surveying the route from the cargo compartment. The team was located in a deep narrow valley with tall trees ranging from 25 to 100 meters height on either side. This precluded a landing and the personnel had to be winched up. Variable winds and limited tip clearance of only five to ten meters made the task extremely demanding and challenging. Displaying exceptional competence and handling of the winching equipment, he winched up the fifteen members in the minimum possible time in extremely adverse conditions. Once on board, he provided them initial nourishment and comfort. All this while, he kept guiding the pilot in maintaining the ground position in the restricted area of operation. The mission would not have been successful but for his valuable contribution.For his exceptional devotion to duty and professionalism, the HonIle President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Junior Warrant Officer Surendra Kumar Mohanty.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 9th April 2005 - No.28-Pres/2005 dated 26th January 2005 & AFD2005 Investiture  

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Wg Cdr Umesh Kumar Sharma 17323 F(P)Unit : No.109 Helicopter Unit  Award Date 27 Dec 05 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Wing Commander Umesh Kumar Sharma (17323) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the Helicopter Stream of the IAF on 22 Dec 1983. He is a Type Qualified Flying Instructor and has also served as a production test pilot in a Mi-8 Base Repair Depot. He has to his credit over 5600 hrs of accident free flying. He is presently posted as Commanding Officer of a Mi-8 Helicopter unit at Air Force Station, Sulur since 11 Aug 2003.Air HQ detailed Wg Cdr Sharma lo load a contingent of six helicopters for undertaking rescue iind relief operations In Sri Lanka, named 'Op Sea Wave'. Utilising his skills ol professionalism and foresightedness, a meticulous induction plan was prepared. He led the first wave of three helicopters from Sulur to Colombo as the Task Force Commander. Immediately after landing in the midst of chaos in Sri Lanka, he co-ordinated with the SLAF HQ and various aid agencies and chalked out the modus operand! for the relief work. He displayed sterling leadership qualities leading the IAF contingent in Sri Lanka and was responsible for effective planning and successful execution of the rescue and relief effort.On 27 Dec 2005, 181 foreign tourists including ladies and children were injured and stranded in the worst affected areas of Galle, Matara and Hambantota. On receiving the news, Wg Cdr Sharma took on the onerous task of immediate evacuation. He was the first to recce and select suitable landing sites within the rubble and wreckage of devastation and ensured quick and safe evacuation to Colombo, thereby saving precious lives in time.He gallantly took upon himself the risk of being the first to recce and decide on the safe routes to fly in the LTTE infested areas. Displaying exceptional courage, despite a potential threat, he co-ordinated airlift of the relief material from SLAF bases to the LTTE controlled areas of Batticaloa, Ampara, Vavuniya and Trincomalee. During the operation, under his leadership, the contingent achieved a task of airlifting 2,35,000 Kg and 673 people, flying a total of 422 sorties/ 270 hours, without any flying accident/incident.For this act of exceptional courage, leadership qualities and selfless devotion to duty during the 27 days of rescue and relief operation in Sri Lanka by the IAF contingent of helicopters, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Wing Commander Umesh Kumar Sharma.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Wg Cdr Subramaniam Ravi Vridhachalem 18101 F(P)Unit : No.118 Helicopter Unit  Award Date 19 Jul 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Wing Commander Subramaniam Ravi Vridhachalem (18101) Flying (Pilot) Is on the posted strength of a Mi-17 Helicopter Unit as its Commanding Officer since 11 Aug 2003.On 10 Jul 2004 Wg Cdr Vridhachalem undertook a mercy mission at short notice from a village near Darranga, south of the International border with Bhutan. On reaching the area Wg Cdr Vridhachalem realized during the recce, that the Pugladia river had breached its banks splitting the village into two. The rising waters of the river were slowly submerging remnants of the village and the marooned villagers were faced with imminent danger to their lives. Despite the fact that there was no clear landing area available in the village, Wg Cdr Vridhachalem displayed gallantry in making a precise landing in a small water-logged clearing within the village. He hovered the helicopter low with one wheel touching the water-logged ground and evacuated the marooned villagers in an orderly manner.On 19 Jul 2004 Wg Cdr Vridhachalem received an urgent request from the DC Nagaon to launch helicopters for evacuating thousands of marooned villagers near Hojai. Two helicopters under the command of Wg Cdr Vridhachalem were launched for Hojai within a mere 30 minutes. The area near Hojai was totally inundated by the Kopili river. The river had breached its banks at a number of places and the resultant flash flood had taken the helpless residents totally by surprise. No clear area was available for launching conventional rescue operations. Assessing the difficult situation and the limited time available, Wg Cdr Vridhachalem brought the helicopter to a low hover on a submerged culvert, He commenced the rescue operation with the helicopter held steady at low hover over the culvert. I lundreds of civilians waded through waist deep water to board the safety of the helicopter hovering a few feet above the ground. He flew as many as 12 sorties to evacuate the marooned civilians without taking a break. The fact that such difficult operations were executed flawlessly by precise hovering over water, with frantic civilians clamouring to be rescued, speaks volumes of the leadership and professionalism displayed by the CO of the unit. The officer led by personal example in ensuring a high level of team motivation exhibited by all personnel of his unit In utiderlaklnn rescue missions under most difficult conditions.For these acts of exceptional courage in rescuing hundreds of lives, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Wing Commander Subramaniam Ravi Vridhachalem.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Wg Cdr Bhanu Johri 18831 F(P)Unit : No.127 Helicopter Unit  Award Date 16 Oct 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Wing Commander Bhanu Johri (18831) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of Mi-17 Helicopter Unit and is commanding the unit since 19 Jul 2004.On 16 Oct 2004, Wg Cdr .John was tasked to undertake a rescue mission of a trekking team consisting of 29 people including 12 foreign nationals stranded at 3428 meters altitude in the inhospitable terrain of Arunachal Pradesh.In an act of extreme bravery, Wg Cdr Johri got airborne in a Mi-17 helicopter in inclement weather with an aim to rescue the trekking team. Maneuvering the helicopter skillfully and valiantly through the clouds, he climbed to 4.5 km to reach over the given coordinates, but due to excessive clouding was unable to locate the survivors. Wg Cdr Johri, however gallantly persisted against all odds and proficiently, handled the helicopter in and out of the clouds from 4500 meters to 3300 meters altitude to continue with the search mission. Still unable to sight the trekking team, he made an exceptionally courageous decision to carry out an approach terminating in OGE hover at 3200 meters altitude in a deep narrow valley with a dead end aiming to locate the team. His sheer perseverance was ultimately rewarded and the team was finally located in this attempt. With limited endurance and fast deteriorating weather in the narrow valley, he took a judicious decision in carrying out three shuttles to rescue all the members In the nick of time and was solely responsible for saving the lives of the entire team. This heroic rescue mission in the face of extreme odds of inclement weal her and unforgiving terrain drew immense appreciation and international acclaim including the Israeli government, thereby earning laurels for the nation and the IAF.For this act of exceptional courage, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Wing Commander Bhanu Johri.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Wg Cdr Pemmaraju Maheshwar 19183 F(P)Unit : 37 Wing  Award Date 26 Dec 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Wing Commander Pemmaraju Maheshwar (19183) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of Air Force Station Carnicobar since 05 Apr 2004.On 26 Dec 2004, Air Force Station Carnicobar was devastated by a severe earthquake which was followed by Tsunamis. The house atop which Wg Cdr Maheshwar had taken refuge along with his and a few other families collapsed due to the onslaught of the tidal waves. While most of the families perished, Wg Cdr Maheshwar and his family miraculously survived suffering heavy physical injuries. After regrouping his family and placing them on a safe location, the professional in him came alive,Inspite of being badly Injured by the swirling debris, Wg Cdr Maheshwar got airborne for a short while in a Mi-8 to lake stock of the extent of devastation. From that moment onwards, despite the recently experienced trauma of witnessing the loss of colleagues and their families, Wg Cdr Maheshwar worked tirelessly to ensure that the runway and all the support services were available round the clock to facilitate evacuation of approximately 5500 personnel, families and civilians from the island of Carnicobar and also enable the unhampered ingress of relief materials. The civilians of the islands wanted to be evacuated to Port Blair. The management of this extra traffic was well regulated by his personal intervention. The runway at Carnicobar had never seen so much night flying before especially by big aircraft like IL - 76 and a large number of AN -32 aircraft. These aircraft flew on emergency lighting system as no electrical systems exist and the surrounding area was In darkness as there was no power supply. Extensive and incident free air operations took place by day and night on a rapidly deteriorating quake damaged runway surface. His personal involvement and supervision ensured'the smooth flow of traffic. Though the medical team advised complete rest to prevent aggravation of haematoma injury, Wg Cdr Maheshwar continued to maintain round the clock vigil to ensure a safe operational environment in a post calamity scenario, where most of the technical facilities were not functional.For this act of exceptional courage, selfless devotion to duty towards mankind, extraordinary physical and menial ronm^d find exemplary leadership in a natural disaster without concern for his personal loss or trauma, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Wing Commander Pemmaraju Maheshwar.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Manish Girdhar 20163 F(P)Unit : No.122 Helicopter Flight  Award Date 10 Jul 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Squadron Leader Manish Girdhar (20163) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of a Mi-8 Helicopter Flight, located at Air Force Station Car Nicobar, with effect from 19 May 2003. He is the Flight Commander of the unit, holds Cat/IRA/Master Green and is a Right Hand Seat Check Pilot.On the evening of 09 Jul 2004, Sqn Ldr Girdhar received the commitment to launch a rescue helicopter for two senior scientists, including one from BARC, and three Coast Guard personnel marooned at Barren Island, India's only active volcano. The helicopter was to get airborne at first light on 10 Jul 2004. Realising the sensitivity of the mission and leading from the front, he chose himself as the captain. He also directed the unit Engineering officer to undertake out of phase servicing of the rescue helicopter to ensure optimum availability of aircraft hours.On landing at Port Blair during the early hours of 10 Jul 2004, he carried out an on the spot assessment of the situation in co-ordination with the other members of the rescue team, which included one Coast Guard officer and three divers. He conducted a thorough mission briefing for all the team members, motivated them and kept them primed for the task at hand. On reaching Barren Island, the marooned scientists were located on a thin cove, south of the island, surrounded by steep sloping rock walls on three sides. Gusty and strong tail winds of 18-25 knots, limited area and daunting cliffs precluded a conventional rescue. Displaying a high level of competence and professionalism, he carried out a curved approach terminating in a 30 meters hover over the sea. Using all his flying experience, hi skillfully manoeuvred the helicopter rearward and sideward in the confined space to position just beyond the water line with bare minimum clearance of five to seven meters from the rork fare. Thereafter he landed the helicopter on a small portion of the protruding land, He maintained partial power ensuring tluil the helicopter did not sink Into the soft ground. The survivors were then recovered, provided water and light refreshments on board and flown back to Port Blair. During the entire mission he maintained a high degree of coordination between the crew members, synergised their efforts and played a leading role in Crew Resource Management.For this act of exceptional courage and leadership in accomplishing a mercy mission with alacrity, efficiency and competence, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Squadron Leader Manish Girdhar.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Tapesh Shankar 20444 F(P)Unit : No.78 Squadron  Award Date 17 Oct 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Squadron Leader Tapesh Shankar (20444) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of a FRA Squadron since 1 (5 Dec 2002. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor, holding Cat/IR B Master Green on IL- 78 MKI aircraft.On 17 Oct 2004 Sqn Ldr Shankar was detailed to fly from Trivandrum to Mauritius as part of Ex Golden Eagle. After an hour and fifteen minutes of flying at an altitude of 28,000 feet over the Indian Ocean in adverse weather conditions, the main hydraulic system of the aircraft failed. In addition, as the aircraft was manoeuvred to turn, the right spoiler, which assists in turning the aircraft, got stuck in the extended position. It led to a serious multiple emergency situations in which prompt actions and careful handling of the ac was imperative. He tackled the emergency in a very calm and professional manner and decided to return to Trivandrum. He flew the complete route manually, as the autopilot was not able to hold the existing excessive control forces. The control forces were so high that he had to fly with the control column deflected to the left by almost 70 degrees and also use his knees to hold it in the required position. On the final approach for landing at Trivandrum, as the speed was reduced to approach speed, the aircraft started side-slipping and became almost uncontrollable, because of the reduced effectiveness of ailerons vis-a-vis the spoilers. Sqn Ldr Shankar understood the cause of the difficulty and immediately increased speed till just short of touch down to counter the sideslip by flying with cross controls and executed a perfect landing. In the absence of the main hydraulic system, wheel-braking effectiveness was also reduced. The handling of the emergency by him illustrates his professional competence and knowledge of IL-78 aircraft systems. Prompt actions taken by him explicitly endorse his presence of mind and exceptional situational awareness. By smoothly recovering a disabled aircraft in adverse weather and in extremely difficult and trying conditions. ik; saved a strategic asset and valuable lives on board.For this act of gallantry, competence and demonstration of professional excellence, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Squadron Leader Tapesh Shankar.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Ashok Pande 20521 F(P)Unit : No.118 Helicopter Unit  Award Date 09 Jul 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Squadron Leader Ashok Pande (20521) Flying (Pilot) has been on the posted strength of 1 18 Helicopter Unit since 14 Jul 2003. He is a seasoned twin-engine helicopter pilot wilh over 3200 hours of flyling. He is a soft spoken and a thorough professional, who with his maturity and experience has been an invaluable advisor and a competent officer.On the 09 Jul 2004, Sqn Ldr Pande was detailed as the Captain of a helicopter for evacuating marooned school children in a boarding school, North of Rangia with the raging flood waters threatening-to wash away the whole building. In-addition to the raging flood waters, the adverse weather with low, dark clouds and rain made the condition dangerous and risky. This aggravated the difficulty in rescue operation. The only landing place available on site where children were stranded was football ground, which too was filled with knee-deep flood water. Landing of helicopter in knee-deep flood water required high level of professionalism and tremendous courage. However, undeterred by such risky and hazardous conditions Sqn Ldr Pande took a brave decision to land the helicopter in knee deep water so as to accomplish the task of rescuing children who otherwise would have been drowned. With sole aim of rescuing 140 children Sqn Ldr Pande risked his life and landed not only once but carried out eight sorties to save the children. In the ensuing days he also rescued 1080 marooned villagers and dropped over 35 tons of essential supplies at various difficult and hazardous terrains. He exhibited exceptional professionalism and coin-age in the best traditions of Air Force, which resulted in saving the several countrymen from the natural calamity.For this act of exceptional courage in extreme adverse conditions, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Squadron Leader Ashok Pande.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Sachin Kapoor 21853 F(P)Unit : Flying Instructors School  Award Date 10 Nov 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Squadron Leader Sachin Kapoor (21853) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of Flying Instructors School since 01 Dec 2003. He is from the transport stream and is an A2 instructor on both HPT-32 and HJT-16.On 10 Nov 2004 Sqn Ldr Kapoor was detailed to fly as a captain along with Sqn Ldr Dhiraj Anand, to carry out airframe and engine check on Kiran Mk-1 aircraft. At a distance of M kilometers from base, Sqn Ldr Anaiul was carrying out barrel roll to check the altTraine handling characteristics. During the barrel roll, Sqn Ldr Kapoor experienced a loss of thrust followed by engine flame out. He immediately took over controls and attempted relight which was unsuccessful. Soon generator warning light became "On" and main hydraulic pressures dropped. Subsequently, the RPM dropped to zero and finally the engine seized. This was a dangerous situation and he could have ejected from the aircraft.However even in such a grave and emergent situation when the aircraft engine had seized, he decided to risk his life to save the aircraft. He tried for a force landing at base with seized engine despite a high and unpredictable rate of descent. It was extremely dangerous and demanded very high degree of courage and professionalism. Undeterred by fear to his life, he manoeuvred the aircraft proficiently and positioned correctly over all key reporting points keeping in mind the increased rate of descent. On finals, when the flaps were lowered on emergency, he skillfully controlled the large change in pitch and gallantly landed the. aircraft safely on the centerline of the runway. He displayed immense courage and handled the emergency in a most competent manner. Sqn Ldr Kapoor not only saved a valuable aircraft as well as vital evidence for investigation but also promoted the gallant and professional traditions of the Air Force.For this act of exceptional courage and professional competence, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Squadron Leader Sachin Kapoor.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Samir Ranjan Das 24040 F(P)Unit : No.41 Squadron  Award Date 26 Dec 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Squadron Leader Samir Ranjan Das (24040) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of DO 228 Squadron, Air Force since 27 Jan 2004. He is an experienced Flying pilot, with 2800 hours.Sqn Ldr Das was on detachment to Air Force Station, Carnicobar during the month of Dec 2004. On 26 Dec 2004 at 0630 Mrs, Carnicobar was hit by severe Earthquake followed by Tsunami. During and after the Tsunami onslaught, he was selflessly and courageously involved in saving lives and organising safe conduct of rescue and relief operations. Courageously wading through the rising level of water at chest level he went towards married quarters lo help tho slnmded families. Seeing the houses being swept in the killer waves, he ran towards the tarmac to save the aircraft. 1 Ic along with the crew started the aircraft and positioned it on the runway. He immediately gave May Day calls to Chennai and requested for rescue and relief. He then went towards the submerged end of runway braving the neck deep reptile infested water without fear of being bitten and helped fifteen stranded families to the safety of high ground. He rescued one snake bite victim out of the water thus saving his life. Thereafter, he courageously entered the submerged married quarters through the unknown waters looking for survivors. He entered the half broken, unsafe Officers Mess and collected few food item/soft drinks, which was sent for ladies and children before relief arrived. His farsightedness proved useful for the survivors.He flew the first casualty evacuation sortie from Carnicobar carrying 20 critically injured survivors and brought back much needed life saving medical aid, food and water. He was flying till late night without food in shorts, T-shirt and slippers only and unmindful of his personal needs. He was flying for the first lime over seas by night with no Navigation aids available and evacuated a total of 60 critical casualties, one of which was a cardiac arrest patient, the very first day and thus saved lives.His relentless efforts towards search and rescue and total involvement in casualty evacuation/ relief operations resulted in saving lives. It aptly exhibited sense of 'Service Before Self.For this act of exceptional courage in saving lives and bravery in the face of National disaster, the Hon'ble President Is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Squadron Leader Samir Ranjan Das.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Flt Lt Santosh Kumar Yadav 25106 F(P)Unit : No.41 Squadron  Award Date 26 Dec 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Flight Lieutenant Santosh Kumar Yadav (25106) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of DO-228 Squadron, Air Force since 29 Sep 2003. He is an experienced Flying pilot, with 2150 hours.Fit Lt Yadav was on detachment to Air Force Station, Car Nicobar during the month of Dec 2004. On 26 Dec 2004 at 0630 h, Carnicobar was hit by severe Earth-quake followed by Tsunami. During, and after the Tsunami onslaught, he was selfless and courageously involved in helping save lives and organising safe conduct of rescue and relief operations. Braving the rising waters at neck level, without fearing for his own life, he swam towards married quarters to help the families stranded on top of the buildings. During his daring endeavor to save precious lives, he was caught in the massive waves and was swept off for about 200 meters through thick jungle and barely managed to save his life after holding onto the trees and then swimming hard to get out of the killer waves. He came out of water with deep cuts and bruises all over his body. He alongwith the crew taxied the aircraft to safety and gave May Day calls to Chennai on HF radio and requested for rescue and relief. He alongwith the Sqn personnel then went towards the submerged end of runway entering neck deep reptile infested water and helped 15 stranded families to the safety of high ground. Thereafter, he along with the crew bravely entered the water and submerged married quarters looking for survivors. He entered iho half broken, unsafe Officers Mess iinil collected few food Hem / sofl drinks, whirl) was scnl for ladies and children. His farsightedness proved useful to the victims.He flew the first casualty evacuation sortie from Carnicobar in mid- afternoon carrying 20 critically injured survivors. He brought back the much needed life saving medical aid, food and water supplies. He was flying till late night in shorts and T-shirt only, unmindful of his personal needs. He flew for the first time over seas by night with no Navigational aids available and airlifted a total of 60 critically injured casualties helping save lives. His relentless efforts towards search and rescue and total involvement in casualty evacuation/ relief operations resulted in saving lives. It aptly exhibited sense of 'Service Before Self.For this act of exceptional courage In saving lives and bravery in the face of National disaster, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Flight Lieutenant Santosh Kumar Yadav.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Flt Lt Devavrat Jagdish Bhandarkar 25338 F(P)Unit : No.122 Helicopter Flight  Award Date 26 Dec 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : Flight Lieutenant Devavrat Jagdish Bhandarkar (25338) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of MI-8 Helicopter Flight of Air Force Station Carnicobar since 10 Nov 2003.On 26 Dec 2004, the Air Force Station Carnicobar was struck by severe earthquake which was followed by dangerous and devastating Tsunami waves that nearly wiped out the domestic area. Flt Lt Bhandarkar, having escaped the initial onslaught, proceeded with duty to provide succour to his fellow men. I le promptly started up the second helicopter for rescue operations. While starting up the helicopter, the dangerous waves entered the dispersal area with a tremendous force and were about to wash away the helicopter. Unmindful of the risk to his life he started the helicopter, which later on proved a boon for saving several lives. He not only saved the valuable asset but was also instrumental in evacuating large number of people who were trapped in the aftermath of Tsunami. He initially flew with the Chief Operations Officer and later with the Commanding Officer, carrying out search and rescue operation by landing at extremely restricted and dangerous spots. He was also involved in winching up personnel and their families from various spots under Hazardous and adverse conditions. The personnel were stranded at many hazardous and dangerous points from where it was very difficult to carryout the rescue. But unmindful of his personal safety and limited safety margins he risked his life to save the stranded personnel. He flew continuously for more than three hours facing extreme adverse conditions amid the fear and apprehension among the personnel striving for life.Immediately after the aerial rescue, despite fatigue and exhaustion, He joined the ground rescue parly to carry out extensive search and rescue In the Tsunami ravaged area. He also carried out the difficult task of extricating and identifying bodies of the dead, which is yeomen service of highest order towards humanity. He untiringly worked day and night for the subsequent four days regardless of the personal safety, comfort, health hazards and displayed immense courage of the highest order. He proved to be a morale booster for others.For this act of exceptional courage and selfless commitment in saving human lives after devastating Tsunami, the Hon'ble President Is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Flight Lieutenant Devavrat Jagdish Bhandarkar.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sgt Devendra Kumar Sharma 765876 ORUnit : No.122 Helicopter Flight  Award Date 26 Dec 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details : 765876 Sergeant Davendra Kumar Sharma Flight Gunner is on the posted strength of Mi-8 Helicopter Flight of Air Force Station Carnicobar since 10 Nov 2003.On 26 Dec 2004, the Air Force Station was struck by a severe earthquake followed by devastating Tsunami waves. Sgt Sharma escaped the onslaught and immediately prepared the helicopter for rescue operations. As the Fit Gnr, he ensured availability of all required equipment on board enabling an expeditious take off. After take off, the captain assessed the situation to be extremely serious with high tidal waves engulfing the domestic area. In the rescue operations that followed Sgt Sharma played a crucial role ns the Fit Gnr and ensured successful evacuation of over 250 people. The rescue operations were carried out from roof tops, balcony and radar ramp, with violent waves devastating the buildings below. The area was restricted and time was at a premium. The survivors were panic stricken and winching thorn required acnirncy and skill. Sgt Sharma displayed great courage, despite the trauma lie underwent and gave valuable Inputs to the Captain of the helicopter, thus ensuring speedy evacuation of people. At one stage the people became so desperate for survival that they were hanging on to the winch cable in groups thus endangering the helicopter itself. Sgt Sharma, with his experience controlled the crowd from the helicopter effectively and continued with the rescue operations. He remained composed through out the long duration of rescue operations of over three hours.For this act of gallantry In reacting to one of the gravest situations, the Hon'ble President Is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Sergeant Davendra Kumar Sharma.
Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th November 2005 - No.130-Pres/2005 dated 15th August 2005 & AFD2006 Investiture 

The Awards Database presented here was made possible by the kind generosity of Air Marshal Bharat Kumar, author of Courage & Devotion to Duty : A Chronicle of IAF's Honours and Awards (1932-2008). Air Marshal Bharat Kumar had very graciously given permission to reproduce the citations from the book on this website.
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Note: All the data available here is publicly available in the Gazette of India, published by the Indian Government, or from public domain sources, press releases about Awards and Right-To-Information (RTI) Requests. Additionally data shared by veterans is added to the page with permission. No data with respect to serving officers below the rank of AVM is displayed. Information in Gazette of India and Award citations and photographs as released by the Indian Air Force are the only details displayed.