Wing Commander Rakesh Kumar Negi (15869) Flying (Pilot) is on deputation to United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) as Commanding Officer of No. 2000 (Helicopter) Squadron consisting of Mi-8 and Chetaks.
On 07 May 2000, Wg Cdr Negi, while flying over rebel held territory, monitored a distress call from another IAF Mi-8 stating that his aircraft has force landed and the rebels are approaching the aircraft from different directions. Realising the gravity of the situation Wg Cdr Negi, displaying exceptional courage and presence of mind, immediately proceeded to the force-landing site and successfully evacuated the 19 UN personnel and the crew before the rebels could capture them. The daring rescue mission received wide scale appreciation including from UN HQ, New York.
On 15 Jul 2000, Wg Cdr RK Negi led his squadron in a joint air-land operation 'Op Khukri' to extricate 222 beleaguered troops from the inhospitable terrain dominated by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels equipped with anti aircraft weaponry. Undaunted by the heavy odds, Wg Cdr Negi courageously led his squadron from the front and flew 40 missions under extremely challenging terrain, weather and battle conditions. All these missions involved troop induction and redeployment from extremely restricted areas in treacherous weather with cloud touching treetops and under continuous firing from rebels. Throughout the operation, he continued to inspire and motivate his crew by his personal example and was able to get the best of them. Wg Cdr RK Negi was instrumental in the swift success of "Op Khukri".
For these acts of courage and professionalism, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Seva Medal' (Gallantry) to Wing Commander Rakesh Kumar Negi.