Group Captain James Sebastian (13385) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned on 02 Jun 73 in the Flying Branch of the IAF. He is a qualified Flying Instructor and has more than 6000 hrs of accident free flying to his credit. His past assignments include Flight Commander and Commanding Officer of a Transport Squadron.
Gp Capt. Sebastian took over command of a Transport Squadron on 18 Oct 95. He was not type-qualified at that time. The Officer realised that sustained excellence could materilise, only through a total cultural reorientation of his manpower. He also realised that personal example and self-esteem would be an important catalyst in the change. With this objective, through a series of sustained individual and collective interactions, he infused a sense of belonging and cohesion in his personnel and instilled a sense of pride in them. Simultaneously, through meticulous planning, he ensured that the support environment matched and complimented the ethos of excellence he set for his Sqn. Intense efforts toward both, accelerated categorisation and operational role clearances of aircrew, on the job training and classes for ground crew, concerted efforts in maintenance and the dedicated thrust towards works services were all elements of this focus.
Leading by example, Gp Capt Sebastian completed his conversion and categorisation and commenced his operational role qualifications within six months of assuming command of his Sqn. He qualified himself in formation-role and led the Sqn in all major Air Force exercises. He also formulated the operating procedures and necessary training schedules and made his Sqn operational in bombing, a new role assigned to the unit. As a result of his sustained and dedicated efforts, his Sqn was adjudged 'Best Transport Squadron' in EAC for two years consecutively and was declared 'Best Transport Squadron' in the IAF in 1998. The culture of excellence also reflected itself in prompt task completion and exceptional Flight Safety record.
For his exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Group Captain James Sebastian.