Air warriors get a big salute from CAS

S Vishnu Sharmaa, INN/Chennai, @infodeaofficial

Air Force Station in Bhisiana in Punjab was the talk of the town on May 27 when air warriors who made the supreme sacrifice in Operation Safed Sagar at Kargil in the past got a big salute from Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa. 
He was at the base and led a four aircraft (MiG 21) ‘missing man’ formation flypast. Sources from the Defence Ministry said Air Marshal R Nambiar, Air-Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command was also a part of the formation. Air Marshal Nambiar is also a Kargil veteran.

The ‘Missing Man’ formation is an aerial salute accorded to honor the fallen comrades-in-arms. This is an arrow formation, with a gap between two aircraft in the formation depicting the missing man. Later, in a somber ceremony, he laid a wreath at the War Memorial to honor the IAF men who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.

It was on May 27 in 1999 that, Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja laid down his life during the Kargil conflict. He was at that time the Flight Commander of 17 Squadron.

Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa visited Air Force Station in Sarsawa in Uttar Pradesh and flew in a Mi-17 V5 missing man formation to commemorate the Kargil martyrs.

It was on May 28 in 1999 that we lost a Mi-17 after successfully attacking the enemy in the Drass sector. Squadron Leader R Pundhir, Flight Lieutenant S Muhilan, Sergeant R K Sahu and Sergeant PVNR Prasad died in action in that Mi-17.

Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, AOC-in-C, Western Air Command, and Lieutenant General YK Joshi, GOC, 14 Corps also visited the station at Sarsawa on the same day to commemorate the solemn occasion.

The timing of the flypast was synchronized with the wreath-laying ceremony at the station war memorial. Mrs. Sharmila Pundir, the wife of Squadron Leader R Pundir, also joined the solemn occasion and laid a wreath at station war memorial while an ALH Mk-III helicopter showered flower petals. 

It is interesting to recollect that during Operation Safed Sagar, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa commanded 17 Squadron of the IAF. Air Marshal R Nambiar took part in the operation flying Mirage 2000 aircraft and Lieutenant General YK Joshi, as Commanding Officer of 13 J and K Rifles, led operations on Tololing for the capture of Point 5140.

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