Service No : IC-49691F
Date of Birth : July 18, 1966
Place of birth : Faridabad, Haryana
Service : Army
Last Rank : Lt Col
Unit : 661 Army Aviation Sqn
Arm/Regt : Army Aviation Corps
Operation : CI & IS Ops
Martyrdom : May 24, 2007
Lt Col JMPD Cunha was born on 18th July, 1966. He hailed from Mangalore though his family was settled in Sector 14, Faridabad in Haryana. Son of Shri Jerald D'Cunha and Smt Flavy D'Cunha, he had an elder sister Preethi and younger brother Praneesh. He did his early education from St. Joseph’s Convent School, Faridabad while completed his 12th from St. Xavier’s College New Delhi. He then graduated in Arts from Hansraj College, New Delhi. Later he got selected to join the Army through Combined Defence Services Examination and went to Indian Military Academy Dehradun.
After completing his training he passed out of IMA in the year 1990 as a Lieutenant. He was commissioned into 193 Field Regiment of the Regiment of Artillery, the combat support arm of Indian Army, well known for its guns , howitzers, drones and other high tech weapons. Later he got trained as a helicopter pilot and became part of the Army Aviation Corps. Soon he evolved into an ace helicopter pilot and served as an instructor for young pilots. After serving for few years he got married to Ms Nicole and the couple had a son Kevin.
Helicopter Crash : 24th May 2007
During 2007, Lt Col JMPD Cunha was serving with 661 Army Aviation Squadron of the Army Aviation Corps. The Squadron was operating Cheetah Helicopter, a high performance helicopter designed for operation over a very wide range of weight, centre of gravity and altitude conditions. The Squadron was using the Cheetah helicopter as a versatile, multi role, multi purpose machine undertaking various operational tasks on a regular basis. Lt Col Cunha, was tasked for one such mission on 24 May 2007 along with his co-pilot Maj Puneet Karol.
On 24th May 2007, Lt Col Cunha and Maj Puneet Karol took off in their Cheetah SA -315 for the assigned reconnaissance mission. Their mission entailed taking off from Jalandhar and flying to Karcham, located in tribal district of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh. The Karcham area had various Hydroelectric Projects going on with high-voltage electricity wires being a common site between mountains. Around 10:50 AM while flying over Karcham, the helicopter lost control and contact with the Air Traffic Control as well. Lt Col Cunha and Maj Puneet Karol being experienced pilots, tried landing at the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam’s (SJVNL) helipad. However while doing so, the rotors of the helicopter got entangled in high voltage wires spanning across two rocky mountains and caught fire. This separated the helicopter from the rotor and the chopper crashed into a hill and exploded. Lt Col Cunha and Maj Puneet Karol could not survive the crash and lost their lives. Lt Col Cunha was a valiant soldier and a professionally competent pilot, who laid down his life in the line of his duty.
Shri Jerald D'Cunha father of Lt Col JMPD Cunha paying tribute to his son said, " “My son had a focused approach to everything in life. He was soft spoken and had a humorous side to him. When my son showed an interest in the army, I encouraged him. We were so proud when he donned his uniform”.