| Wing Commander Mukesh Kothari (24047) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the Indian Air Force as a pilot in the flying branch on 29 Jun 96. He is a QFI with 3300 hrs of accident free flying on Mi-35, Mi-17, Mi-8 and Chetak I Cheetah helicopters. He has flown extensively in Op Vijay, Op Meghdoot, UNPKF in DRC and in Eastern sector of India. At present, he is commanding a Cheetah I Chetak helicopter unit based at Udhampur since 26 Aug 13. In the first week of Sep 2014, unprecedented rainfall in Srinagar valley led to breach in embankments of Jhelum River causing wide spread damage to life and property. Since the Kashmir valley was the worst affected, it was decided to position a three helicopter detachment at Srinagar to carry out relief operations with Wing Commander Kothari as the Detachment Commander to supervise the challenging task. During the entire operations, the officer undertook 40 missions, rescued close to 20 people from low hover and dropped four tones of rescue material. On 09 Sep 14, the Unit was tasked to answer an urgent SOS call from Karnnagar and Tengpura localities of Srinagar, wherein people were marooned on rooftops. Water level was rising continuously and there was a threat of people getting swept away, especially in the low lying areas. The officer meticulously briefed his crew and got airborne within 15 mins of reception of the message. In this mission, he rescued four people in low hover from the roof tops in two shuttles and dropped food for the survivors. He rescued another eight people the next day from low hover and dropped 1.5 tons of food in 11 shuttles displaying his professional expertise, inspiring leadership and courage. On 13 Sep 14, SKIMS (Shere Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences) had to undertake a critical lifesaving surgery. The surgical equipment at the hospital was destroyed by the floods. The fastest way to deliver these lifesaving surgical stores was by a Cheetah helicopter which could land at the restricted space of SKIMS campus. The environment was inhospitable as there were instances of stone pelting at an IAF helicopter the previous day, hence landing an aircraft outside the campus was a risky task. The officer flew the mission successfully, undeterred by the situation, displaying professionalism of a high order in a hostile environment. For exceptional devotion to duty, Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty) to Wing Commander Mukesh Kothari.