Madurai

Veteran airman celebrates 100th birthday

Serving officers in uniform greet him with salute and bouquet

When retired Warrant Officer of Indian Air Force P.D. Pandian celebrated his 100th birthday at his residence in Arumuganeri near Tiruchendur on Monday, he would not have expected a team of government officials, led by Revenue Divisional Officer, Tiruchendur, Dhanapriya, to drop in to greet him with a shawl and bouquet.

His surprise and happiness knew no bounds when serving officers from Southern Air Command in Thiruvananthapuram entered his house in full uniform, the attire he loved the most, and greeted him with a salute and bouquet.

Born on June 8, 1920, he joined the air force in 1944 and retired from service in 1975 after serving at various IAF bases across the country. “I was in charge of our convoy carrying arms and ammunition in the bases I served,” recalls Mr. Pandian, who participated in the India-Pakistan war in 1971.

An outstanding volleyball player, Mr. Pandian won many special awards in intra-IAF tournaments.

In 1977, when the badminton team from Arumuganeri, playing under the captaincy of 57-year-old Mr. Pandian in a tournament at Valliyoor, won the title, the spectators were amazed at the athleticism shown by the aged man, recalls his son Jacob Jebaraj, a retired primary school teacher.

“My god-fearing father, a hardworking perfectionist, used to send ₹60 a month through postal money order to his parents during famine when as he was drawing a salary of ₹80,” Mr. Jacob recalls his grandfather as telling him.

Though age and weakening physique did not affect Mr. Pandian’s mobility, chikungunya had a telling impact on the veteran airman. “His movements were affected a lot after he contracted the viral infection a couple of years ago,” Mr. Jacob says.

When his relatives began narrating the failure of the revenue department to grant him seven acres of land, usually given to airmen after retirement, Mr. Pandian intervenes and stops them. “Do not blame anyone,” he says with magnanimity.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 5:22:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/veteran-airman-celebrates-100th-birthday/article31781375.ece

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