An Ode to Fallen Air Warriors

This is AN ODE TO FALLEN AIR WARRIORS written by Air Marshal Sumit Mukerji that will be featured in a forthcoming book to commemorate Indian Air Force personnel who died in aviation incidents. The book title is “In Memoriam: The Fallen Air Warrior” which will be released by the MIAF in the second week of December 2016 at the USI


The bright morning sun and the song bird’s flight
      Has always provided a child unmitigated delight
The urge to grow wings and soar to great heights
      And leave the “surly bonds of earth” as John Gillespie decried.
The sheer joy and freedom of the open blue skies
      Has tugged at the heartstrings of every guy
To loop and to tumble, unfettered and free
      Defying gravity must be easy, just see the bumble bee.
But the business was rough, it soon became clear
      A military aviator wasn’t sure there was nothing to fear
Hatched in the shadow of the Second World War,
      “Tally Ho” was the war cry that made every heart soar.
Inoculation, nay baptism, by fire they say
      There is no better training to show us the way.
The IAF in its rise became a great story
      Its motto clear, to Touch the Sky with Glory.
No Air Force in the world does such rigours impose,
      On man and machine as they chose to repose
From the towering mountains all snow-clad and white
      To the shifting sands where the scorpion did bite
Spanning the expanse of the Gangetic plain,
      The arms even spread south into Dravidian domain.
The spectrum was vast, the forces spread wide and far
      The buddies in arms were split from the start.
The rush and exhilaration of wind in the face
      Of those wonderful machines which are a historian’s craze
Gave way to the fast jets which sent you supersonic,
      While autorotation in the chopper left you in near panic.
The Dak and the Caribou seemed to plod endlessly on,
      But the succour they provided proved the soldier’s prayer bang-on.
To keep flying machines in the air is no joke,
      The credit is to the engineer that few people oft spoke.
But like a lightning bolt which split asunder the sky
      The accompanying thunder, God’ s own war cry
The world seems to shatter as your buddy succumbs
      The black smoke and wreckage are mute witness to the crumbs.
Snatched away in just an instant of time,
      By the same machine which was his ultimate shrine
Oh God, in you we placed our trust
      Was it for “Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust”?
Oh all ye brave aviators, riders of the storm
      Remember thy maker, for he forgiveth no one
For there comes a time when our friends are gone
       Our hearts have bled but memories still linger on
The sounds of silence are deep and bring forth a tear,
      The heart-rending strains of the “Last Post” we fear.
But ‘tis said, “The Clock of Life is wound but once…..”
      When the clock goes still, we have no chance.
Sumit Mukerji