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.