| Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of Personnel Holding Section, on deputation to the UN Mission in Congo since 27 Feb 06. He is working as a squadron pilot in the Mi-35 Attack Helicopter Squadron at Goma.|
On 25 Nov 06, a renegade warlord made deep advances towards Goma town, with the town coming under an imminent threat of being taken over. The Mi-35 attack helicopters were immediately pressed into action to prevent the fall of Goma. Leading from the front, Wg Cdr Ajay Shukla got airborne for fire support and reconnaissance in support of the Indian Brigade. In face of repeated hostile fire from the rebels on his helicopter, including that by Rocket Propelled Grenades, he remained undeterred and continued with the mission. Soon he detected heavy militia activity inside a well camouflaged camp and targeted it successfully with 57 mm rockets, leading to destruction of a key rebel command centre. This action by Wg Cdr Shukla delivered a crippling blow to the rebels and precipitated a severe disruption in their coĂ‚Âordinated offensive. He flew a total of 10 crucial operational sorties, both by day and night. The sorties were carried out in very demanding conditions of hazardous terrain, inclement weather and enemy action. An experienced pilot on Night Vision Goggles, Wg Cdr Shukla was also at the forefront of all night operations. He took calculated risks and displayed exceptional skills in handling the night targeting devices to effectively scan for movement of rebels on the critical nights of 26 and 27 Nov 06. Crucial inputs provided by him exposed the game plan of the advancing rebels and enabled immediate friendly reinforcements to be sent. Throughout the operations, his accurate weapon delivery had a devastating effect on the vanguard rebel elements threatening Goma and on their camps being used for reinforcements, thereby, preventing Goma town from falling into the hands of the rebels and helping recover Sake town.
Wg Cdr Shukla is a very qualified and extremely professional Air Warrior. During this crisis, his gallant contribution towards keeping Goma town secure from the rebels has been exceptional. His actions have won accolades from all quarters for the IAF and have contributed immensely towards UN efforts at peace enforcement in this troubled region.
For this act of exceptional courage and steadfast resolve in face of adversity during the operations, Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Wing Commander Ajay Shukla.