Monday, 27 January 2014

President Confers Gallantry Awards to Indian Air Force Personnel for OP Rahat (Posthumously)

A large numbers of pilgrims had been stranded in the narrow valleys of Kedarnath, for over five days without food and water. The Mi-17 V5 helicopter with crew rose to the occasion and promptly commenced rescue operations from 21 Jun 2013 onwards. 
They were charged with an onerous responsibility of saving as many lives as possible under extremely challenging conditions.
 The crew flew over 22 critical rescue missions, resulting in saving more than 190 pilgrims who were stranded in the worst affected areas of the Kedarnath valley.
   On 25 Jun 2013, the captain and Crew of the Mi-17 helicopter were tasked to move essential supplies and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams to Kedarnath, located at  an elevation of over 11000 feet and rescue stranded pilgrims from Kedarnath during the return sorties. 
Fully aware of the criticality of the mission on that particular day involving some of the more grievously wounded / traumatized  pilgrims. 
 Inclement weather, frequently drifting clouds and poor light conditions prevalent  in the  unforgiving  terrain of the narrow valley led to frequent delays in the operations and this made his task extremely demanding. 
Realizing the gravity of  their task and the criticality of evacuation for some of the stranded pilgrims, volunteered for the critical mission and got airborne in the first available window of opportunity to position his helicopter at Gupkashi.

            On that day the helicopter carried out three sorties which were undertaken under deteriorating weather conditions. During these three sorties, they successfully saved 80 precious lives. During the return leg  from Kedarnath to Guptkashi the helicopter impacted on the steep slopes off valley resulting in their supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. 
For their acts of conspicuous courage, professional competence and successful execution of a risk mission to save precious lives in hostile weather conditions in an extremely inhospitable environment the following personnel have been awarded :-

(a)       Kirti Chakra (Posthumously) -  Wing Commander Darryl Castelino        Flying (Pilot) - Captain

(b)       Shaurya Chakra  (Posthumously) -  Flight  Lieutenant        Krishnamoorthy              Praveen  Flying (Pilot)  - Co Pilot

(c)       Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)  (Posthumously) -  Flight Lieutenant Tapan Kapoor  Aeronautical Engineering (Mechanical) – Technical Officer

(d)       Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)  (Posthumously) -  Junior Warrant Officer Akhilesh Kumar Singh -  Flight Engineer

(e)       Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)  (Posthumously)  -   Sergeant Sudhakar Yadav -  Flight Gunner

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