| Wing Commander Pankaj Sharma (25628) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of a Mi 17 V5 helicopter unit at Air Force Station Srinagar since 20 Apr 13. He is a Cat A Qualified Flying Instructor and is presently the Flight Commander of the unit. Jammu and Kashmir faced a natural catastrophe in the beginning of Sep 14 in the form of ravaging floods. The devastation was unprecedented, wherein the loss to life and property was unparalleled. The unit was the first to be tasked to commence rescue operations in Op Megh Rahat. Not to be daunted by the overwhelming magnitude of relief operations, he took on the responsibility of the team leader since the CO was on a fig ex for the first day, for conducting all the rescue missions. An officer with tremendous courage and initiative, he flew the first sortie under adverse weather to assess the extent of damage for commencement of rescue and relief missions were to follow. He flew extensively in the most exigent circumstances for helicopters, which included winching up of around 200 people, mass evacuation of flood affected people and dropping of relief material. On 07 Sep 14, he volunteered for the first rescue operation involving winching operations. Running against time, he rescued 25 people stranded on precarious roof tops of collapsing house in the heart of Srinagar town, who would have otherwise perished in the rising waters. On another occasion he evacuated critically ailing CRPF person from the Secretariat building amidst heavy stone pelting at the helicopter from hostile elements on ground. He showed courage, perseverance, ingenuity and dexterity in planning and executing these missions. He utilised Garuds along with their survival equipment for overcoming constraints and progressing rescue operations unhindered in an hostile environment. As the Flight commander of the unit, his dedicated involvement, crew management, conduct of briefings and intricate planning of sorties resulted in smooth conduct of rescue operations against heavy odds. The colossal task was undertaken with clockwork precision and exemplary professionalism without any incident or accident; which can be attributed to the careful planning, formulation of procedures, ardent supervision and leading by example consistently. For acts of exceptional courage and selfless commitment in saving lives during Op Megh Rahat, Hon'ble President is pleased to award Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to Wing Commander Pankaj Sharma.