NEW DELHI: Squadron Leader S Selvakumar (Flying Pilot), posted at the high altitude Leh-based helicopter unit, has been awarded gallantry medal for saving the lives of 12 ITBP personnel.
Hailing from Tamil Nadu, he has been earlier awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for his rescue operation in Ladakh.
According to Indian air Force, on October 16, 2014, an ITBP patrol vehicle carrying 12 personnel on a routine patrol along the Indo-Chinese border near Hot Spring, fell into a dry river bed. All occupants of the vehicle were seriously injured.
On getting the distress call, Selvakumar promptly gathered relevant information and quickly planned the mission. The valley to the Hot Spring is narrow, hostile, inhospitable and without any habitation. There are no force landing fields to touch down the aircraft in distress.
In addition, inclement weather left the pilots with no margin for error, making the assigned evacuation task demanding and challenging. Aware of the fast deteriorating weather, Sqn Ldr Selvakumar estimated that only a 2 to 3 hours window would be available for the rescue.
He encountered extremely bad weather with heavy snow fall forcing him to carry out a precautionary landing at Tsogtsalu.
Determined to rescue the soldiers, he made another daring attempt and landed near the casualties on a restricted landing zone.
On landing, he realized that he alone would not be able to rescue all the injured, so contacted his base.
“Sqn Ldr Selvakumar by his courage, leadership, and resolute attitude ensured that six lives were saved from a dire situation,” IAF said in its statement.