Service No : IC-16244K

Birth Place : Ladakh

Service: Army

Last Rank : Colonel

Arm/Regt : Ladakh Scouts

Year of Demise : 1997

Colonel Chewang Rinchen MVC Bar, SM

Born in 1931, Chewang Rinchen could have spent his entire life in the remote village of Sumur at the confluence of the Shyok and Nubra rivers. But the visit of the Kalon (minister) of Ladakh changed the course of his life. The official spotted the spark in the 13-year boy and after gaining the approval of his parents, decided to take him to Leh to educate him. Four years later, in one of the most daring operations of the 1947-1948 War, Captain Prithi Chand and a few of his Lahauli companions saved Leh by reaching the Ladakhi capital before the Pakistani raiders. They had done the impossible, crossing the Zojila pass in winter. The captain soon became the mentor of the young Rinchen, who underwent a short military training under him. Rinchen then recruited 28 of his friends from the Nubra Valley and created the Nubra Volunteer Force who played a crucial role in the 1947-1948 War.

 

In April 1969, Chewang Rinchen was finally given a regular commission in the Indian Army and was posted with the 14 J&K Rifles. His battalion was soon transferred to Firozpur in Punjab. But when the heat of the summer became too unbearable for the young Nunnu (the name given to the natives of the Nubra Valley), he applied for a transfer back to the Ladakh Scouts which was granted. In August 1971, as the clouds were gathering over the Indo-Pakistan border, Rinchen joined his old regiment.  A   month later, Rinchen started reorganizing the Nubra Guards, giving them special training in firing small arms. He enrolled 550 young local volunteers and organized them into four companies (called by the names of the nearby ranges Karakoram, Saser, Remo, and Saltoro).

 

Indo Pak: 1947-48

 

As a young lad of 17 Chewang Rinchen* enrolled himself in the Ladakh Guards on 25 July 1948. With hardly a week’s training, he organized and trained a local militia unit of 28 youths. In September, operating alongside Indian Army units, he fought in the Nubra Valley. His grim defense of a position on the Kharu Nullah earned him a promotion to the rank of Jemadar (Naib Subedar). In the same month, negotiating a 17,000 feet high snow-clad pass under most trying conditions, he helped the capture of Lama House, a vital enemy stronghold.

 

On 15 December, having marched for three days over high snowdrifts, he put in a fierce attack on a high hill feature near Biagdangdo and captured it. This action was immediately followed by his capture of Tukkar Hill, the last enemy position in Leh tehsil. This last action involved crossing over snow-clad hills 21,000 feet high. Half of his platoon was suffering from frostbite. But under his inspiring leadership and following his example of personal bravery, his men had accomplished a seemingly impossible feat. He was then promoted Subedar. In these actions, Subedar Chewang Rinchen displayed personal bravery, resourcefulness, leadership, and dedication of duty of a high order. Fighting in the Nubra Valley he was promoted through the ranks and was awarded Mahavir Chakra for his extraordinary bravery and became the youngest recipient of the award. He also participated in the 1962 war and received the Sena Medal for his gallantry and devotion to duty.

 

 Indo-Pak War:  Dec 1971

 

During the 1971 war, then Maj Chewang Rinchen was commander of the force that was assigned the task of capturing the Chalunka complex of enemy defenses in the Partappur Sector. Each of these nine enemy strong points was held by one to two platoons and fortified with mines and wire obstacles. This operation was planned and executed with professional competence and great zeal. Under most adverse weather conditions, Maj Rinchen led his command, displaying aggressive spirit, fighting from bunker to bunker, exhorting, and encouraging his men to destroy the enemy thus making the operation a complete success. In this action, Maj Chewang Rinchen displayed inspiring leadership, indomitable courage, initiative and exceptional devotion to duty in the highest traditions of the Indian Army and was awarded Maha Vir Chakra, the second time.

 

Col Chewang Rinchen was married to Shema Choskit Dolma of Leh Khangsar. He retired as a Colonel in 1984 and was appointed honorary Colonel of the Ladakh Scouts. He breathed his last in 1997 at the age of 66 yrs.

The citation for the first Maha Vir Chakra awarded to him reads : 

 

 “As a young lad of 17 Chewang Rinchen* enrolled himself in the Ladakh Guards on 25 July 1948. With hardly a week’s training, he organized and trained a local militia unit of 28 youths. In September, operating alongside Indian Army units, he fought in the Nubra Valley. His grim defence of a position on the Kharu Nullah earned him promotion to the rank of Jemadar (Naib Subedar). In the same month, negotiating a 17,000 feet high snow-clad pass under most trying conditions, he helped the capture of Lama House, a vital enemy stronghold.

 

On 15 December, having marched for three days over high snowdrifts, he put in a fierce attack on a high hill feature near Biagdangdo and captured it. This action was immediately followed by his capture of Tukkar Hill, the last enemy position in Leh tehsil. This last action involved crossing over snow-clad hills 21,000 feet high. Half of his platoon was suffering from frostbite. But under his inspiring leadership and following his example of personal bravery, his men had accomplished a seemingly impossible feat. He has then promoted Subedar. In these actions, Subedar Chewang Rinchen displayed personal bravery, resourcefulness, leadership and dedication of duty of a high order.”

 

The citation for the second Maha Vir Chakra  awarded to him reads :

“Major Chewang Rinchen of Ladakh Scouts was commander of the force assigned the task of capturing the Chalunka complex of enemy defences in the Partappur Sector. Each of these nine enemy strong points was held by one to two platoons and fortified with mines and wire obstacles. This operation was planned and executed with professional competence and great zeal. Under most adverse weather conditions, Major Rinchen led his command, displaying aggressive spirit and cool courage, fighting from bunker to bunker, exhorting and encouraging his men to destroy the enemy, making the operation a complete success.

 

In this action, Major Chewang Rinchen displayed inspiring leadership, indomitable courage, initiative and exceptional devotion to duty in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.”

The Indian Army has named an army shopping complex after him in Leh.

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Source
  • http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-the-hero-of-nubra/20111222.htm
  • https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-lesser-known-facts-about-the-Indo-Pak-War-in-1971#!n=12
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3 Comments
  • Satish singh

    2018at12:34 pm Reply

    Jay hind sir
    Sir apke baldan ko hum Sada yadh rakege apne apna jivan desh Par balidhan kar diya hum apko sat sat Naman karte hy
    Jay hind Jay Bharat vande matram

  • Gopinath Panda

    2020at10:09 am Reply

    Shahadat Sat Naman Jai Hind Brave Officer and Team

  • Hitendra

    2020at3:03 pm Reply

    The most decorated soldier of Mother India. Salute to you.

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