Awardee List for the 122 HF

A total of 8 Awards are listed.
Kirti Chakra : 1 | Shaurya Chakra : 1 | Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) : 5 | Vishist Seva Medal : 1 |
Kirti Chakra
Wg Cdr Balakrishana Pillai Sreebhavan Krishna Kumar 17870 F(P)Unit : No.122 Helicopter Flight  Award Date 26 Dec 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details :

Wing Commander Balakrishna Pillai Sreebhavan Krishan Kumar is posted as the Commanding Officer of a Mi-8 Flight at Air Force Station, Car Nicobar since 08 November 2004. On 26 December 2004, Air Force Station Car Nicobar was devastated by a severe earthquake, which was followed by a Tsunami. Wing Commander Krishna Kumar’s house was one of the first to be engulfed and destroyed by the tidal waves. After having faced a near death situation and surviving the same, Wing Commander Krishna Kumar lost no time in getting airborne, to take stock of the situation and to carry out search and rescue operations.

On getting airborne, Wing Commander Krishna Kumar saw the havoc being wrecked by 30 feet high tidal waves and realized that time was at premium. He immediately commenced rescuing families and personnel stranded on balconies, rooftops and high ground before the tsunamis could demolish or engulf the structures. Rescue operations by winching up and evacuation by landing was getting dangerous by the minutes and as the water was consuming everything in sight. In spite of his own traumatic escape from near death situation, Wing Commander Krishna Kumar kept the composure and displayed extreme courage and professionalism by continuing to manouevre the helicopter under marginal safety conditions, thereby saving approximately 400 lives. In subsequent days, despite losing all his belongings in the Tsunami, Wing Commander Krishna flew numerous sorties to provide relief and succour to thousands affected not only in Car Nicobar but also in the rest of the Nicobar group of islands.

Wing Commander Balakrishna Pillai Sreebhavan Krishan Kumar displayed extraordinary courage, conspicuous gallantry and compassion to fellow beings in the face of heavy odds in a natural disaster.

Reference: Notification No. 34-Pres/2005 dated 26th January, 2005 published in Part 1 Section 1 Gazette of India dated 9th April, 2005.  

Shaurya Chakra
Flt Lt Arisetty Vijay Kumar 25858 F(P)Unit : No.122 Helicopter Flight  Award Date 26 Dec 04 Announced 15 Aug 05
Details :

On 26 December 2004, Air Force Station Car Nicobar was devastated by a severe earthquake followed by Tsunamis. In a short span of time, the dangerous wave engulfed the area. Flight Lieutenant Arisetty Vijay Kumar realizing the danger of the devastating waves risked his life for saving the personnel. He rushed to stranded personnel and led them to the runway, which was the highest point on the airfield, knowing that any delay could have endangered his own life. His courageous and brave actions helped to save the life of many personnel. After the devastating Tsunami the entire Air Force Station was in a great trauma due to massive loss of lives and property. Buildings had collapsed and trees uprooted. Immediately after that Flight Lieutenant Vijay Kumar started up a helicopter expeditiously for rescue mission. Flying as Co-Pilot to the Commanding Officer, under difficult flying conditions and limited safety margins, he displayed courage of a very high order and continued with rescue, despite risk to his own life. He flew for three hours continuously. Undeterred by fatigue and the danger of flying in extreme adverse conditions, Flight Lieutenant Vijay Kumar undertook the rescue tasks despite all odds and difficulties. Though the safety margins for flying were dangerously low, he dared to fly and winched up stranded personnel from rooftops, balconies and radar ramp where the area was extremely restricted. His actions in the face of natural calamity were a morale booster to others who emulated him in further rescuing the personnel.

Flight Lieutenant Arisetty Vijay Kumar displayed raw courage, gallantry and selfless devotion to the fellow beings, in the face of heavy odds in a natural disaster.

Reference: Notification No. 126-Pres/2005 dated 15th August, 2005 published in Part 1, Section 1, Gazette of India dated 26th November, 2005. 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Philip Jacob 15725 F(P)Unit : No.122 Helicopter Flight  Award Date 04 Jun 96 Announced 15 Aug 96
Details :

Squadron Leader Philip Jacob (15725) Flying (Pilot) is the Flight Commander of a Helicopter Unit and is on the posted strength of AF Base Port Blair w.e.f. 30 Apr 95. He has over 1000 hours of flying experience on type.

At 2230 hours on 04 Jun 96, an SOS was received from INS Valsura. A rescue boat, a sailing boat with seven sailors was missing since 1830 hours and was believed to have been swept way by the receding tide into the Gulf of Kutch. More critically, one of the occupants who attempted to reach the shore was believed to be stuck in the marsh. The new rising tide would drown this officer and therefore a prompt reaction was critical to the success of the mission.

On being detailed, Squadron Leader Philip Jacob was airborne within an hour. In addition to the regular complement of aircrew, using his ingenuity; he carried two more technicians and improvised equipment, which may have been required to recover the officer from the marsh. The weather conditions were not favourable for SAR mission of this sort at night. The winds were in excess of 40 kmph and blowing into the just rising moon, which affected the minimum speed for search and visibility. Also due to the sea spray the search had to be done at 20-25 mtrs, for the landing lights to be effective.

After having reasonable ascertained the absence of officer in the marsh, search was shifted towards the water line and the sea. After a search of over an hour, the drifted boat was located with six survivors on board and a Motorola set was handed over to the survivors from a low hover. Contact could not be established even on this set with the boat. Now, it becomes imperative to winch up one of the survivors to ascertain the whereabouts and well being of the rest of the crew. Therefore one of the survivors was winched up into the helicopter, with whose help the rest of the survivors were later recovered.

In flying this highly demanding mission in unfamiliarly conditions over the sea at mid night, compounded by extremely strong winds and poor visibility, Squadron Leader Philip Jacob has exhibited a strong sense of commitment and responsibility above and beyond the call of duty. Further an exceptional display of skill and professionalism, resulted in the safe and successful conduct of the mission in turn fostering a tremendous spirit of inter service cooperation.

For the act of exceptional courage, the President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Squadron Leader Philip Jacob.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 30th November 1996 - No.92-Pres/96 dated 15th August 1996 

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)
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)
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 

Vishist Seva Medal
Wg Cdr Tonda Sree Venkatesh 16796 F(P)Unit : No.122 Helicopter Flight  Award Date 26 Jan 04 Announced 26 Jan 04
Details :

Wing Commander Tonda Sree Venkatesh (16796) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the Flying branch of the IAF on 04 Jun 1982. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor and an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College. He was awarded Commendation by the CAS in Dec, 1989 for flying operations in Operation Meghdoot. He also took part in Operation Pawan during 1989-90. He was the Flight Commander of a helicopter unit from 1996 to 1999. Presently, he is the Commanding Officer of a Helicopter Flight (HF). On taking over the HF in May 2000, Wg Cdr Venkatesh revised the Standard Operating Procedures for IAF helicopter flying over the sea at Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which has become operational. Considering the depth of his knowledge and experience on different roles of helicopter operations, Wg Cdr Venkatesh was nominated as a member of the Inter Services Joint Planning Group for the AMPHEX 2001. This led to smooth conduct of helicopter operations during the exercise. Under his command, the Flight achieved 100% serviceability for 131 days during 2001-02.

During the tenure as Commanding Officer, Wg Cdr Venkatesh was instrumental in commencing armament training for the Flight for the first time in Nov, 2000. During Dec, 2000, he commenced inter-island night cross-country flights for the first time in the history of the Helicopter Flight and cleared four aircrew on the role. Both these aspects enhanced the operational capability of the HF. In Jun, 2001, Wg Cdr Venkatesh was tasked to carry out a feasibility study to land a Mi-8 helicopter on the deck of a merchant vessel 'MV Swarajdeep'. After extensive study, he carried out the trial landing on board the deck of 'MV Swarajdeep' on 28 Apr 2002. This event has opened the options for tactical deployment of Mi-8 at sea as well as its transportation by ship.

For his distinguished service of high order, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vishisht Seva Medal' to Wing Commander Tonda Sree Venkatesh.

Reference: Gazette of India Notification Dated : 26 Jan 2004 Number: 

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.