Service No : 1875 GD(P)
Date of Birth : October 20, 1921
Place of birth : Mumbai(Maharashtra)
Last Rank : Flight Lieutenant
Unit : 12 Sqn
Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force
Martyrdom : October 31, 1947
Flight Lieutenant Clifford Joseph Mendoza hailed from Dadar in Bombay in Maharashtra and was born on 20 Oct 1921. Son of Smt Grace Mendoza, he joined the Royal Indian Air Force after completing his initial education. He was commissioned as a pilot officer on 5 Apr 1942 at the age of 21 years. He got trained as a transport pilot and passed out as part of the 12th Pilots' Course. After completing his flying training, he served with 9 Sqn from Sep 1944 to Dec 1944 and then with 8 Sqn from Dec 1944 to Dec 1945. Later in Nov 1945, he got posted to 12 Sqn, operating Dakota aircraft. By 1947, he had put in barely 5 years of service, when the war with Pakistan broke out and he got involved in active operations.
Air Transport Mission (Indo- Pak War) : 31 Oct 1947
During 1947, Flt Lt Clifford Joseph Mendoza was serving with 12 Sqn based at Air Force Station Agra. 12 Sqn was formed in 1945 on the spitfires with Squadron Leader Syed Naseem Haider as its first Commanding Officer. Later it became the first Indian squadron to convert to Transports. It moved to Agra in August 1947 and operated Oxfords and Dakotas. When Kashmir was invaded by Pakistan in 1947, the Indian Air Force launched various air operations in support of Indian Army. 12 Sqn from Agra under the command of Wing Commander Karori Lal Bhatia undertook many transport support operations in moving soldiers and equipment. Flt Lt CJ Mendoza was tasked for one such operation on 31 Oct 1947.
On 31 Oct 1947, Flt Lt CJ Mendoza took off in his aircraft Dakota C-17 (MA-965) from Jammu as per the operational plan along with Fg Offr TR Peters as co-pilot and Fg Offr Umesh Sunder Thonse as Navigator. The other air crew members included Warrant Officer Patric Hart, LAC Madan Prakash, Sgt Om Prakash Kacker, LAC Bal Krishna Bakshi and LAC R Singh. However after flying for sometime the aircraft presumably developed some serious snag and crashed in the mountainous area of Pir Panjal Mountain range between Jammu and Srinagar. As the aircraft lost contact a massive search and rescue operation was launched but it did not yield any result. The search operation was called off after few days. However the wreckage of the aircraft was found in an isolated area in the year 1980. Besides Flt Lt CJ Mendoza, Fg Offr TR Peters and Fg Offr Umesh Sunder Thonse, the other air warriors who lost their lives in this mission included WO Patric Hart, LAC Madan Prakash, Sgt Om Prakash Kacker, LAC Bal Krishna Bakshi, LAC R Singh, Flt Sgt HK Singh, Sgt John Stephen, Cpl IS Jesudasan, Cpl Huligole A Srinivas, LAC KS Gandarde, LAC Srinivasan, LAC JMR John, LAC S Singh, LAC M Singh, LAC Mohan Singh, LAC Suresh Jha, LAC R Singh, LAC NG Chowdhury, Cpl Kartar Singh, LAC Jai Pal Singh, LAC Namburi Narayan, LAC Om Prakash Sharma. A joint funeral was conducted in honour of the 25 IAF personnel on June 11, 1981. Flt Lt Clifford Joseph Mendoza was a competent pilot and committed air warrior, who laid down his life at the age of 26 years in the line of his duty.