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Virat, Darmi and Heena awarded Army Chief Commendation

Virat, Darmi and Heena were awarded the Chief of the Army Staff Commendation on the eve of Army Day on January 15 for their exemplary service. Virat is a horse with the President’s Bodyguard (PBG), while Darmi and Heena are Army dogs.

Virat, a Hanoverian breed, was issued to the PBG on September 12, 2000. He performed his duties as the Commandant’s Charger for over a decade and awed spectators, including foreign dignitaries, with his trademark poise and confidence, an official in the know said.

“Within a short span of time, he displayed the potential and temperament to become the most trustworthy Parade Horse,” the official noted”. “During Republic Day Parade and Beating the Retreat ceremony in 2021, the horse performed exceptionally well despite his old age.”

“I have had the proud privilege of presenting the national salute to the President of India astride this noble horse on four Parades”, recalled an officer who was with the PBG several years back. “During my first Republic Day Parade, Virat guided the nervous me through the paces and has never let the Commandant and the PBG down, he recalled. “From the beautiful arch of his neck right down to his graceful trot, to the wisdom in his eyes, Virat is a horse like no other,” he said.

Virat has also been complemented by the President on a number of occasions for his stellar performance during mounted ceremonial events as well as equestrian events held on Rashtrapati Bhavan Divas, the first official cited above stated.

Army dogs

The Army has eight different trades of dogs: tracker, guard, mine detection, explosive detection, infantry patrol, avalanche rescue operations, search and rescue, assault and narcotic detection.

Darmi was pressed into service for a search and rescue operation at a post on the Siachen Glacier on April 25 last year. Undeterred by the extreme cold conditions at an altitude of around 16,500 feet, low atmospheric oxygen and high intensity winds, Darmi confirmed the exact location of Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) that was damaged, dislocated and buried under 25 feet of hard snow. This helped in recovering six soldiers and three porters, an officer explained.

During the search operation, Darmi showed great composure, sniffing abilities and team work with its trainer and indicated the presence of casualty buried under approximately 25 feet of hard snow, the officer said, adding that the stupendous performance not only provided vital leads to the rescue team but also motivated and invigorated the rescue team in their rescue efforts.

Heena, a Labrador retriever, is a tracker aged five years and is highly loyal, even tempered, intelligent, highly obedient and exceptionally reliable, the officer cited above observed. In February 2021, Heena was part of an extensive search operation along the Line of Control in Kashmir after an infiltrator was eliminated, the officer said.

The Army had stated that the superiority of the dogs employed is reflected by the increasing demand for them from friendly foreign countries. There has been a demand for acquiring dogs trained by the Remount and Veterinary Corps as well as requests for getting their Army personnel trained in dog handling from several countries.


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Printable version | May 6, 2022 4:09:38 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/virat-darmi-and-heena-awarded-army-chief-commendation/article38283178.ece