The Indian Air force is accomplished with a number of decorated officers who served for nation with full zeal, passion, and devotion. There are approximately 1,70,000 active personal presently serving in Indian Air force. It is the 4th largest air force in the world followed by USA, Russia and Israel. On the occasion of 87th Indian Air Force Day we are going to introduce some of our brave IAF legends who devoted their entire life in serving and safeguarding our motherland.
AIR MARSHAL SUBROTO MUKERJEE
OBE(Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) winner Subroto Mukerjee paved the way to his own tryst with destiny and laid the foundations of India’s Air Force in the process. Subroto was one of the six Indians selected for training as pilots at the RAF College, Cranwell. The date of commission of this small pioneering band coincided with the date of formation of the Indian Air Force. He was awarded an OBE in June 1945. Appointed Honorary ADC on the personal staff of H.E. the Governal General on 15-8-47 and then again from 21-6-48 to 21-1-50.
DR. RAJENDRA PRASAD, PRESIDENT said “… the late Air Marshal had distinguished himself as Chief of the Indian Air Force, for the progress that this young Service has made in recent years, much credit will be given to him and his inspiring leadership. His sad demise at this juncture has come to us all as a blow.”
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU, PRIME MINISTER showed him gratitude by saying “It is really a tragedy. It is exceedingly sad. We have been deeply shocked… He was a young man with years of career before him. We expected long years of good service from him.”
April 1st 1954 was a red-letter day in the history of Indian Air Force. On this day, the only surviving officer of the first batch of six Indian cadets trained at Royal Air Force Flying College, Cranwell, London, commissioned in 1932, Subroto Mukerjee took over the reins of Indian Air Force. It was also on this day that, with the departure of the third British Air Chief, Air Marshal Sir Gerald Gibbs, the last links of the IAF with the British Raj came to an end.
AIR CHIEF MARSHAL PC LAL
The India’s victory in the war of 1971 is supported by the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Pratap Chandra Lal. He was an instructor and a manager at par excellence. His contribution to India’s aviation industry via Indian Airlines Corp. and Hindustan Aeronautics explains his professional abilities. He moulded a large and rapidly expanding air force into and efficient fighting force during his tenure.
AIR CMDE MEHAR SINGH
Air Commodore Mehar Singh MVC DSO, affectionately called ‘Baba’ Mehar Singh by his associates, was a legendary pilot in Indian Air force. He was a born leader and a team man who always led from the front. Mehar Singh was immensely successful in earning respect by his bravery, daring feats and brilliant leadership. He was a role model for the young fliers in the IAF. The legend of Baba Mehar Singh is replete with splendid examples of professionalism dedication, devotion to duty, courage and commitment indeed true characteristics of an ideal Air Warrior.
AVM HARJINDER SINGH
Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh joined the IAF as a Hawai Sepoy , the first to join IAF on its formation and rose to the rank of Air Vice Marshal to command the Maintenance Command of IAF . His span of service covers aperiod of thirty-two years: from the formation of the infant Indian Air Force in 1932 to the early sixties.
FLYING OFFICER NIRMAL JIT SINGH SEKHON (PARAM VIR CHAKRA – 1972)
Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon was a pilot based at Srinagar for the Air Defence of the valley against Pakistani air attacks. He and his colleagues fought the successive waves of intruding Pakistani aircraft with valour and determination, maintaining high reputation of the Gnat aircraft. On 14th December, 1971 Srinagar airfield was attacked by a wave of six enemy Sabre aircraft that ultimately crashed the Sekhon’s aircraft.
The sublime heroism, supreme gallantry, flying skill and determination above and beyond the call of duty displayed by Flying Officer Sekhon in the face of certain death, have set new heights to Air Force tradition.