Gallantry medal for downed pilots

Naib Subedar Sombir, who won the Shaurya Chakra posthumously

Naib Subedar Sombir, who won the Shaurya Chakra posthumously  

President also approves nine Shaurya Chakras, four of which are posthumous

Squadron Leaders Siddharth Vashisht and Ninad Mandavgane, pilots of an Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopter accidentally shot down in Budgam on February 27, 2019, were posthumously selected for the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) on the eve of Republic Day by President Ram Nath Kovind. Four personnel on board were honoured with “Mention-in-Despatches”.

The President approved nine Shaurya Chakras, of which four were posthumous. Six Shaurya Chakras were to Army personnel, while three were to security forces personnel under the Home Ministry.

“The President has approved awards of 409 gallantry and other defence decorations to armed forces personnel and others on the eve of 71st Republic Day celebrations,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

These include nine Shaurya Chakras, 28 Param Vishisht Seva Medals (PVSM), four Uttam Yudh Seva Medals (UYSM), 53 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals (AVSM), 10 Yudh Seva Medals (YSM), 123 Vishisht Seva Medals (VSM), 111 Sena Medals (Gallantry), five Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry), four Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry), 40 Sena Medals (devotion to duty), eight Nao Sena Medals (devotion to duty) and 14 Vayu Sena Medals (devotion to duty).

On the morning of February 27, as fighter jets of India and Pakistan were engaged in a dogfight over the Naushera sector, the Mi-17 crashed in Budgam shortly after take-off from Srinagar killing all six personnel on board and one civilian on the ground. The Court of Inquiry ordered to investigate the crash confirmed that it was shot by an Israeli-origin ground-based Spyder surface-to-air missile system of the IAF.

Last October, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, acknowledged that the helicopter crash was a case of friendly fire and “big mistake.” He said disciplinary action would be taken action two officers, and those who died would be declared battle casualties.

Naib Subedar Sombir of the Jat regiment was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his actions with the Rashtriya Rifles in Kashmir. He was part of an assault team which planned and executed an operation in which three hardcore terrorists were eliminated in Jammu and Kashmir. His award citation stated that despite being injured in close-quarter battle, Naib Subedar Sombir killed the foreign terrorist later identified as a Category A++ terrorist. The soldier died of grievous gunshot wounds on his chest and neck.

Two Shaurya Chakras went to officers for operations in Manipur, while the other were for counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir and along the Line of Control. The President approved three Tatrakshak Medals for gallantry and two for meritorious service for Coast Guard personnel.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:57:01 AM |

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