The soldier is a military. No military is better than its soldiers. The soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country” – George Patton.
Sacrificing one’s own life for the country is the highest act of bravery one can do. Many soldiers laid down their life for the betterment of the country. Among them five Indian Air Force Personals which include Wing Commander, two Flight Lieutenants, a Junior Warrant Officer and a Sergeant. The Mi-17V5 helicopter was on a rescue mission from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath due to record off season monsoon, cloud burst, floods, flashes and glacier lake outburst in those areas. The chopper also dropped tonnes of wood in Kedarnath, also carrying relief material. With heavy rain and changing climate IAF pilots were working relentlessly in such terrain for last few days. The finest Pilots of Air Force, highly qualified and absolute competent to carry such a mission, an IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter carrying Wg. Cdr D Castelino, Flt Lt K Praveen, Ft Lt Tapan Kapoor, JWO A K Singh, Sgt Sudhakar Yadav along with 20 others rescue personnel crashed in north of Gaurikund, near Kedarnath resulting in loss of their lives.
Wg Cdr D Castelino, who was born and raised in Mumbai since Nov 2, 1975, joined Air Force in 1998 with service number 25107 was a ace pilot of IAF got martyrdom on June 25, 2013 during this rescue operation was awarded Kirti Chakra (Posthumous) due to his single minded focus to rescue lives and displaying exemplary courage at hard situations.
Flt Lt Krishnamurthy Praveen, service number 30394F(P) was just 27 years old young officer from Madurai, he received Shaurya Chakra (Posthumously) for bravery and conspicuous courage, professional competence and successfully executing risky mission to save precious life.
Ft Lt Tapan Kapoor born in Delhi on 27 April, 1986, was keen interest in playing basketball, badminton and cricket as well. With multiple talents in him, he was made school captain and won many laurels for school. During the rescue operation, keeping his mind calm and showing wisdom and guiding the team to rescue he was posthumously awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for his action in the field. Junior Warrant Officer Akhilesh Kumar Singh, service Number 771580-S along with Sgt Sudhakar Yadav both hail from UttarPradesh, and both serving in 157 HU AF unit was martyred during their valuable service during the rescue operation in Uttarakhand and both of them were awarded Vayu Sena Medal for their bravery.