Service No : IC-39584M
Date of Birth : January 12, 1960
Place of birth : Kochi, Kerala
Service : Army
Last Rank : Lieutenant Colonel
Unit : 18 Grenadiers
Arm/Regt : The Grenadiers
Awards : Vir Ckakra
Martyrdom : June 3, 1999
Lt Col Ramakrishnan Vishwanathan hailed from Kochi in Kerala and was born on 12 Jan 1960. Son of Shri Venkatesh Ramakrishna Iyer and Smt Kamala, he did his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya at Gandhi Nagar in Kochi. After finishing school he joined National Defence Academy Khadakwasla, the cradle for producing officers for the Indian Armed Forces. After completing his training at the National Defence Academy Khadakwasla, he went to IMA Dehradun for his advanced training before being commissioned into the Army on 13 Jun 1981 at the age of 21 years. He was commissioned into the Grenadiers Regiment, an infantry Regiment known for its intrepid soldiers and many battle honours.
After serving for some time, he got married to Ms Jalaja and the couple was blessed with a daughter Anjali, son Akshay. During his army carrier, besides serving on Indian soil, Lt Col Vishwanathan also served with Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka and later with UN Peace Keeping Force in Rwanda and Angola. He gained the reputation of being a very dedicated soldier and commanded the respect of his seniors and soldiers under him as well. During 1999, Lt Col Vishwanathan’s unit was deployed in the J & K along the LOC.
Tololing Operation (Op Vijay) : 02/03 June 1999
On 3 May 1999, enemy intrusions were detected and Operation Vijay was launched by the Indian Army to evict the intruders from Indian territory. 18 Grenadiers battalion was inducted in Drass area on 19 May 1999 under the command of 121 Inf Bde and were operating along with 1 Naga and 8 Sikh battalions. These battalions along with 28 RR less a company operated under 121 Inf Bde till 22 May when HQ 56 Mountain Brigade assumed the command of the Drass area. 18 Grenadiers troops under the command of Col Khushal Thakur were tasked to launch an attack to capture Tololing on 02 June 1999. Amidst the action during the war Lt Col Vishwanathan assumed the role of a leader of one of the missions wherein they had to retrieve the bodies of 3 of their comrades from the windswept slopes of the Tololing ridge and get them down. Earlier Maj Rajesh Adhikari had laid down his life while trying to capture Tololing Ridge. Lt Col Vishwanathan displayed rare valor in closing in on enemy positions under heavy enemy automatic fire and intense artillery shelling. The attack in the night of 02/03 June 1999, took the enemy by complete surprise as it came along a very difficult approach and terrain at an altitude of over 15,000 feet.
During the attack, Lt Col Vishwanathan sustained multiple gunshot wounds. In spite of being severely injured, he refused to be evacuated and exhorted his troops to press on further. He charged through enemy defenses destroying three enemy positions and eliminating four intruders single-handedly in close hand-to-hand combat. Due to his efforts, the battalion could secure a foothold on the enemy location which later facilitated the capture of Point 4590. Though Second-in-Command of his unit, Lt Col Vishwanathan disregarded his seniority and preferred being where his men were fighting: and led from the front. The first aid given to Lt Col Vishwanathan didn’t help much and as his troops were trying to get him back to Drass, he succumbed to his injuries on the way. Besides Lt Col Vishwanathan, the other martyred brave hearts during the operation included Subedar Randhir Singh, Lance Hav Ram Kumar, Naik Samunder Singh, Grenadier Munish Kumar and Grenadier Praveen Kumar.
Lt Col R Vishwanathan was a valiant soldier and a gritty officer, who laid down his life in the service of the nation. Lt Col R Vishwanathan was given the gallantry award, “Vir Chakra” for his cold courage, leadership, comradeship and supreme sacrifice. Lt Col R Vishwanathan is survived by his wife Smt Jalaja, daughter Anjali, son Akshay and sister Smt Jyothi Vekatesh.
The citation for the "Vir Chakra" awarded to him reads:
During ‘Operation Vijay’, Lieutenant Colonel Ramakrishnan Vishwanathan was the Second-in-Command of 18 Grenadiers, which was conducting operations in the Tololing area of Drass sector. He displayed rare valor in closing in on enemy positions under prohibitive enemy automatic fire and intense artillery shelling, thus taking the enemy by complete surprise along a very difficult approach and terrain at an altitude of over 15,000 feet.
During the attack, Lieutenant Colonel Vishwanathan sustained multiple gunshot wounds. In spite of being severely injured he refused to be evacuated and exhorted his troops to press on further. He charged through enemy defenses destroying three enemy positions and eliminated four intruders single-handedly in close hand-to-hand combat. Due to his efforts, the battalion could secure a foothold on the enemy location which later facilitated capture of Point 4590. Though Second-in-Command of his unit, Lieutenant Colonel Ramakrishnan Vishwanathan disregarded his seniority and preferred being where his men were fighting: and led from the front during assaults on well-fortified enemy positions in Tololing. He, however, succumbed to his injuries making the supreme sacrifice for the nation in the best traditions of the Indian Army.