Service No : 2610836P
Date of Birth : June 1, 1983
Place of birth : Betadur, Karnataka
Service : Army
Last Rank : Lance Naik
Arm/Regt : The Madras Regiment
Operation : Op Meghdoot
Awards : Sena Medal
Martyrdom : February 11, 2016
Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad belonged to Karnataka’s farming family of Betadur village in Kundagol taluk of Dharwad district. The youngest in the family, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad always wanted to join the Army since his childhood. He came up the hard way, attending high school at Aralikatti village by walking 6 km every day. And, despite being rejected thrice in the Army recruitment rallies at Belagavi, Dharwad, and Gadag, he kept on trying and finally managed to get into the Army in the year 2002.
Lance Naik Hanumanthappa was recruited into 19 Madras of the famed Madras Regiment, a regiment known for its fearless soldiers and various battle and theater honours. In the year 2012, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad married Mahadevi (Jayashri) and had a daughter, Netra. By 2016, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa had put in about 13 years of service and served in various operational areas with demanding conditions. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa had served in difficult and challenging areas for 10 out of 13 years of his total service. His postings included Jammu and Kashmir from 2003 to 2006, where he was actively involved in counter-insurgency operations. He was again deputed to serve with the 54 Rashtriya Rifles in Jammu and Kashmir from 2008 to 2010, and later in the northeast from 2010 to 2012 where he took part in operations against militants. He was serving in the high-altitude areas of the Siachen glacier from August 2015.
Sonam Post Avalanche: 03 Feb 2016
During 2015-16, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa's unit 19 Madras battalion was deployed in Siachen area under the command of Col Um Bahadur Gurung. In Dec 2015, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa 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 Lance Naik Hanamanthappa the other soldiers of the team included Sub Nagesha TT, Hav Elumalai, Lance Hav S Kumar, Lance Naik Sudheesh B, 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. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa 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 but it took 6 days to locate and rescue Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. Despite being buried under snow for nearly 6 days, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa miraculously was found alive though his pulses were feeble and he was in a drowsy and disoriented state. Nine other personnel at the post, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO) of Madras Regiment, could not survive and Lance Naik Hanumanthappa was the only soldier, who was rescued alive from the site.
Lance Naik Hanumanthappa was flown in a Cheetah helicopter to Siachen Base Camp and from there to the military airfield Thoise (an acronym for Transit Halt of Indian Soldiers En Route) for transferring him to Army Hospital at Delhi. The whole nation prayed for Lance Naik Hanumanthappa’s recovery to complement his strong willpower to survive. However, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa’s heroic battle for life came to an end on 11 Feb 2016, when he succumbed to multiple organ failure. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa was a valiant and committed soldier who laid down his life in the service of the nation. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa was given the gallantry award, ” Sena Medal” for his bravery, commitment, devotion to duty and supreme sacrifice.
Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad is survived by his mother Smt Basamma, wife Smt Mahadevi and daughter Netra.