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President Confers Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) to SQN Leader Mantej Singh Somal Flying (Pilot)

EMBARGO : NOT TO BE USED / RELEASED / PUBLISHED UNTIL 0001 HRS ON 26 JAN 2015

Squadron Leader Mantej Singh Somal Flying (Pilot) is held on the posted strength of a MI-17 V5 helicopter unit.

On 07 Apr 2014, while undertaking anti Naxal operations in Jagdalpur, he received information that there was an attack by Naxalites on the CRPF camp in Chintalgufa. In the fierce gunfight with Naxalites, three CRPF personnel were critically injured and required air evacuation as life saving measure.

He took on the onerous task of evacuating the injured amidst the ongoing fierce gun fight. The helipad of Chintagufa is surrounded by hills on three sides and the naxals had occupied dominating area on one side. The security forces were able to carry out sanitization in the approach funnel away from the hills, thus ensuring only unidirectional approach. Despite the fact that the landing was possible only in one direction, he decided to go in for a landing since waiting for complete area domination by security forces would have endangered the life of crucially injured personnel. He displayed immense courage in making a precise landing on a very restricted helipad amidst the ongoing battle between naxals and security forces. Displaying an un-daunting spirit, he evacuated the injured from the battle scene, which not only resulted in saving the lives of the injured but also served as a he morale booster to the troops on ground. Throughout the election period in the same time-frame he took part in close to twenty high risk missions, which have been instrumental in successful and peaceful conduct of general elections in the states of Chattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in 2014.

For this act of exceptional courage, Sqn Ldr Mantej Singh Somal has been awarded with Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).

SSB/RCD/CMG

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