Service No : 2600705W

Place of birth : Adukkamparai, (TN)

Service : Army

Last Rank : Havildar

Unit : 19 Madras

Arm/Regt : The Madras Regiment

Operation : CI & IS Ops

Awards : Sena Medal

Martyrdom : February 3, 2016

Havildar Elumalai M SM

Havildar Elumalai M had joined 19th Battalion of the Madras Regiment on October 28, 1996. He was married to Smt E Jamuna Rani and blessed with two sons namely E Kavirasu and E Sri Priyadarshan. Hav Elumalai was a highly motivated Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), who had a high level of initiative and was always willing to carry out any task assigned to him. He had conducted several successful small team operations against terrorists in both Jammu & Kashmir and North East during his nine years of field service. Because of his ability to motivate his juniors and leading them from front, the NCO was selected to be part of Sonam Post which required men with nerves of steel and high level of physical fitness.


Hav Elumalai had commendable soldierly skills and had attained instructor grading in Weapon Course at Infantry School, Mhow. He had had a tenure as Instructor at the Madras Regimental Centre, Wellington where he trained several recruits and his work was praised by his superiors. He was also part of the Unit Training Team prior to induction of the unit to Siachen Glacier.


Sonam Post Avalanche: 03 Feb 2016


During 2015-16, Hav Elumalai’s unit 19 Madras battalion was deployed in Siachen area under the command of Col Um Bahadur Gurung. In Dec 2015, Hav Elumalai along with 9 other personnel were chosen to man the Sonam post, one of the highest manned military posts in the world atop Saltoro Ridge. The post that overlooked Siachen Glacier to the east and Pakistani occupied territories to the west was prone to devastating avalanches with extreme weather conditions. Besides Hav Elumalai, the other soldiers of the team included Sub Nagesha TT, Lance Hav S Kumar, Lance Naik Sudheesh B, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, Sep Mahesha PN, Sep Ganesan G, Sep Rama Moorthy N, Sep Mustaq Ahmed S and Sep Sunil Suryawanshi. On the glacier, the soldiers contested an area where they had to deal with altitude sickness, high winds, frostbite and temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit). The rigorously trained soldiers needed to highly skilled in survival and sustenance. Besides the enemy fire, the soldiers had to brave the most unforgiving weather accompanied frequently by sudden avalanches and landslides. One such monstrous avalanche struck Sonam post in the morning of 03 Feb 2016.


Formed by enormous sized block of snow fracturing away form the mountain, it buried the post up to 25 feet deep snow in few seconds.  Although the Army had a unit of the Snow Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) in Jammu and Kashmir, with several observatories at various locations to issue warnings and alerts to the Army formations and units, it could not detect this avalanche and the cause also could not be known. Hav Elumalai and 9 other soldiers got trapped under 25 feet of snow at an altitude of 20,500 feet. A massive rescue operation was launched by the Army which continued for  6 days to locate and rescue the trapped soldiers. The rescue operations were carried out by specialized teams of the Army and the Air Force which were being coordinated from Leh and Udhampur. The teams of Army and the Air Force undertook massive rescue operations under extreme weather conditions but could not save the life of this brave soldier. The nation will remain grateful to Hav Elumalai for his courage and supreme sacrifice. Hav Elumalai was awarded 'Sena Medal" for his courage, devotion to duty and supreme sacrifice. 


Hav Elumalai is survived by his wife Smt Jamuna Rani and two sons E Kavirasu & E Sri Priyadarshan.  

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