Service No : IC-57963L
Place of birth : Dehradun(U'Khand)
Service : Army
Last Rank : Lieutenant Colonel
Unit : 202 Army Aviation Squadron
Arm/Regt : Army Aviation Corps
Operation : CI & IS Ops
Awards : Sena Medal
Martyrdom : February 11, 2015
Lt Col Rajesh Gulati hailed from Dehradun in Uttarakhand, where he spent most of his childhood and college days. Son of Shri Kundan Lal Gulati, an official of ONGC and Smt Asha Gulati a homemaker, he did his schooling from Dehradun and then went on to complete his BSc from DAV College Dehradun. He had a strong inclination to join the Armed Forces since his younger days and his resolve to join the Army grew with the age. The proximity of his house in Dehradun to IMA had allowed him to have a closer look at the lives of the trainee officers and he had realized quite early in life that it was his true calling.
Following his passion, he consequently, cleared the Combined Defence Services Examination after graduation and got selected to join the Army. He joined the IMA Dehradun in June 1997 and was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 13 June 1998 at the age of 22 years. He got commissioned into 110 Med Regt of the Regiment of Artillery, the combat support arm of the Indian Army well known for its booming guns and heavy weaponry. After commissioning, he got posted to a field unit in Arunachal Pradesh as his first assignment. After serving for sometime as Captain he got married to Ms Sarika, his childhood friend from Dehradun on 15 April 2000 and the couple had a son Saksham on 09 Oct 2002.
After serving for few years with his parent Regiment, he got selected for the Army Aviation Corps and got trained as a helicopter pilot. After completing his flying training at Allahabad, he got posted to Kanchrapara in West Bengal, where he further honed his flying skills. Subsequently he became QFI( Qualified Flying Instructor) and one among the first to be trained on Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, a twin engine chopper, manufactured by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) , which was inducted into the Indian Army in 2002. In the year 2012, he got promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and got posted to 202 Army Aviation Squadron based at Dras in J&K. By the year 2015, he had more than 1000 flying hours to his credit and evolved into a professionally competent pilot with expertise in various air operations.
Army Air Operation: 11 Feb 2015
During 2015, Lt Col Rajesh Gulati was serving as 2IC(Second-in-Command) of 202 Army Aviation Squadron based at Dras in J&K. The squadron under the command of Col Sunil Kumar Das was operating Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv. The Squadron was using the ALH as a versatile, multi role, multi purpose machine undertaking various operational tasks on a regular basis. Following the tragic floods in Jammu and Kashmir in September 2014, the Northern Command of the Army launched a humanitarian assistance mission to provide relief and rescue operations. Lt Col Rajesh Gulati and his unit took part in these operations and carried out many successful missions. Besides the casualty evacuation and relief operations, the 202 Army Aviation Squadron was providing varous types of tactical and logistic support to counter -insurgency operations by the Army. Lt Col Rajesh Gulati was tasked for one such operation on 11 Feb 2015.
It was a two aircraft mission with one ALH being captained by Lt Col Rajesh Gulati with Major Tahir Hussain Khan as his co-pilot. It was a night mission and entailed usage of NVGs(Night Vision Goggles) with dependence on aircraft instruments to navigate through obstructions. The terrain along the route was hazardous with steep Safapura Ridgeline on the east. As per the operational plan, Lt Col Rajesh Gulati and Maj Tahir Hussain Khan took off for the mission from Manasbal at 7:30 pm. The flight was uneventful in the initial phase, however after flying for around 40 minutes, when they were flying close to Safapura Ridge,, the aircraft came dangerously close to the central hill. Lt Col Rajesh Gulati took over the control and using his flying skills managed to maneuver the aircraft away from the hill. However while doing so, the helicopter collided with a spur jutting out from the hill. The helicopter soon got engulfed into a massive ball of fire and crashed. Lt Col Rajesh Gulati and Maj Tahir Hussain Khan could not survive the crash and succumbed to their injuries. Lt Col Rajesh Gulati was a committed soldier and professionally competent pilot, who laid down his life in the line of his duty. Lt Col Rajesh Gulati was given the gallantry award, “Sena Medal” for his commendable courage, leadership and supreme sacrifice.
Lt Col Rajesh Gulati was an ace pilot and a dedicated soldier, who will always be remembered for his selfless service and supreme sacrifice. Lt Col Rajesh Gulati is survived by his father Shri Kundan Lal Gulati, mother Smt Asha Gulati, wife Smt Sarika Gulati and son Saksham.