| Wing Commander Riju Kochhar (22975) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of an AN-32 Squadron since 01 Oct 2007. He has over 3000 Hrs of flying experience on AN-32 aircraft and holds CAT/IR 'BG' (Category 'B' Green). On 2006 November 2008, he was authorised as captain of a Transport Support Role mission from Chandigarh to Leh with 38 passengers. At an altitude of 25,000 feet, about 80 nautical miles from base, the "CHECK DOOR" caution came on. He promptly investigated the abnormality with the help of his Flight Engineer. Moments later, a loud bang was heard which was followed by misting in the cockpit. Wg Cdr Kochhar with rare display of quick reflexes immediately recognised the emergency correctly as rapid decompression. As the misting cleared, the cargo door was observed to be hanging from the port side, posing grave danger to the passengers and crew. Displaying exceptional situational awareness and professional courage, Wg Cdr Kochhar controlled the aircraft and turned towards base, gave a 'MAYDAY' call and commenced emergency descent amidst high terrain. He flew the aircraft with the ramp partially open for over 45 minutes and carried out a safe landing at Chandigarh. As he touched down on the runway, the ramp was observed to be hanging precariously a few inches above the runway. There was a possibility of ramp scraping the runway and the likelihood of aircraft going of the runway during landing. With his analytical approach and skillful handling, Wg Cdr Kochhar ensured that the aircraft did not suffer a landing accident. Wg Cdr Kochhar handled an unprecedented and grave and emergency reacted in a calm and composed manner and with single minded purpose. His leadership qualities were at display in utilising all crew members in recovering the aircraft safely. His prompt action, professional courage and presence of mind saved a precious aircraft as well as 42 invaluable lives thereby averting a serious accident. For this act of exceptional courage, Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)' to Wing Commander Riju Kochhar.