The Tsunami Warriors deserve our Salute

It was January 26, 2005. The familiar visage of my school chum riveted my attention to the television screen. The Doordarshan correspondent gushed while covering the sterling work being done by the crew of the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine frigate INS Taragiri in tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka , especially in the worst-hit Galle and the surrounding Hikkaduva region in the southwest. That was the image of my classmate Commander G Prakash, the captain of the Taragiri. So, out of curiosity, I googled to find out whether he and his men had notched up reports in the media for their remarkable stint in Galle. Continue reading

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A salute to Captain Harshan

Given the strength of Keralites serving in the Indian Air Force, it could be re-spelled as ‘India Nair Force’! Kerala has the second largest contingent of veterans, but since the state never directly bore the ravages of war, there was little appreciation of the sacrifices of the men-at-arms. Which forced a Malayali officer during the 1971 war to quip tongue in cheek that he wouldn’t mind his home bombed as long as that triggered regard among the Keralites for soldiering and the untold toll extracted by war. Continue reading

A Friend in Need

Rajan Paul of SevanaIt was August 19, 1983. Rajan Paul’s head accidentally hit the shallow seabed off Doha while he was pursuing his pastime of diving. The impact cracked his cervical spine and paralysed his body, neck down. He returned to Kizhakkambalam, his village that lay east of Kochi, ambulant on a wheelchair.

A bosom pal realised there was life after quadriplegia for this ingenious engineer aged 40. So he designed a sophisticated wheelchair to enhance his chum’s comfort and mobility. The duo together went on to set up the Sevana Electrical Appliance at Kizhakkambalam in 1984, with a capital of Rs 4 lakh. But starting an industry in Kerala is fraught with nameless perils. Continue reading

No ifs and buts

Mig21 of No3 Sqn3 September 1987 – Somewhere near Pathankot

As Boss (Wing Commander D. Dayakar), Jita (Flight Lieutenant K.R. Ajit) and I set for Mikki’s (Flt Lt M.K. Behl) debriefing of the low-level strike sortie we flew, Sri (Flt Lt S. Srivastava) darted in and told Boss, ‘‘Sir, message from ATC: Bira (Flt Lt Ranbir Singh) has crashed.’’ Continue reading

Left out Lefties

The D Ring from an Aircraft Wreckage When the Air Force search and rescue team reached the crash site to fetch the flight cadet who had ejected from a trainer aircraft, to their horror, they found his lifeless body. The parachute was found unopened in its pack. On examination, the doctor found the flying overall about his right abdomen torn into shreds and incipient bloody crusts coating several deep lacerations therein. These discoveries flummoxed everyone. Continue reading

Indian Express | A Hero In Real Life

Written by Vinita Deshmukh.

BEST Air Force Cadet at the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasala; best student of aerobatics at the Air Force Academy, Secunderabad; comm- issioned into the IAF as a fighter pilot in 1984; 700 flying hours to his credit. Another magnificent man in his flying machine? Yes, but when M P Anil Kumar goes down in history, it will be as a fighter, not a fighter pilot. His legacy will not be victory, but the will to win.

Anil Kumar is no Hrithik Roshan, but for lakhs of schoolchildren in Maharashtra, he commands equal awe and affection, thanks to ‘Kumar Bharat’, a chapter in their textbooks. The amazing first-person story of ambition, grit and survival has earned the 38-year-old a permanent place in the hearts of successive batches of impressionable schoolchildren. Continue reading