| Wing Commander Mukesh Rawat (17453) Flying (Pilot) is commanding a Helicopter Unit at Air Force Station, Sarsawa since 05 August 2002.|
In the evening of 21 November 2003 the station was tasked to undertake casualty evacuation of 13 civilians stranded in critical conditions due to heavy snowfall across Rohtang Pass at about 14,000 ft. Aborted attempts by civil helicopters earlier had made the task even more daunting. Considering the degree of difficulty, Wg Cdr Rawat was detailed to carry out this mission. The next day, two helicopters got airborne for the mission. An aerial recce of the site was not much of help due to acute white out and turbulent conditions. The combined effect of high altitude, loose snow, lack of visual reference, turbulent wind and dipping low temperature made the task treacherously difficult. He made three attempts to land, which had to be aborted just prior to touchdown due to loose snow creating a snow bowl. Not deterred by this, he decided to make one more attempt. Harnessing his vast experience and after careful analysis of his previous attempts, this time he could make a partial landing, as the loose snow was unable to take the weight of the helicopter. While he skillfully hovered the helicopter with nearly nil reference, the copilot pulled in the first set of casualties. Successive attempts.
With his indomitable spirit, dauntless courage, and scant regard to personal safety, he saved 13 precious lives. For this act of conspicuous courage and selfless service, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal' (Gallantry) to Wing Commander Mukesh Rawat.