Service No : IC67037
Place of birth : Kapurthala Dist(Pun)
Service : Army
Last Rank : Major
Unit : 6 Lancers
Arm/Regt : The Armoured Corps
Operation : Op Meghdoot
Martyrdom : July 21, 2011
Major Gurphej Singh Cheema hailed from Kapurthala district of Punjab and was born in the year 1981. Son of an army veteran Col Rajinder Singh, Maj Gurphej had inclination towards the Armed Forces since his childhood. Eventually he joined the Army and was commissioned into 6 Lancers of the Armoured Corps, the corps well known for its tanks and heavy weaponry. After serving for few years with his parent unit, he was sent on attachment to 13 Mahar battalion of the Mahar Regiment, an infantry Regiment known for its fearless soldiers.
Operation Meghdoot: 21 July 2011
During 2011, Maj Gurphej Singh Cheema was serving with 13 Mahar deployed in Siachen glacier as part of "Op Meghdoot". Maj Gurphej and his comrades at that time were braving the hostile weather as well as the enemy across the undefined border. Besides facing extreme weather conditions, Maj Gurphej and his troops had to deal quite often with unprovoked firing from the enemy forces. In order to deal with hostile weather conditions the troops were trained to use specialized equipment in their daily tasks. The living conditions were also very harsh and demanded tremendous patience and endurance.
Until 2000, the soldiers stayed in snow tents that icy winds and blizzards could blow away or rip apart. Later they were provided with fiber glass huts. Each hut could accommodate six people and two could be joined to take in 12. It had a window on the top for the sun to filter in. But these structures could become loose and shift as there was no foundation holding them in place. As soldiers prepared food or sleep inside — mostly in sleeping bags on the floor or on makeshift wooden planks because beds would take up too much space — the ice underneath would often melt. The iron nails anchoring the hut at times would become loose and the structure would shift and even be blown off on a windy day. On 21 July 2011, Maj Gurphej and Lt Archit Verdia were at Ashok post located at 19000 feet and were sharing a fiber glass hut.
In the night due to some unknown reasons, the fiber glass hut of Maj Gurphej and Lt Archit Verdia caught fire. As the fire spread, the unit troops swung into action and launched massive efforts to bring the fire under control. However despite using every resource at their disposal, the unit troops could not save the lives the two officers. During the process, four soldiers too sustained burn injuries. Maj Gurphej and Lt Archit Verdia succumbed to their burn injuries and were martyred. Maj Gurphej Singh Cheema was a dedicated soldier and a fine officer who laid down his life in the service of the nation.
Maj Gurphej Singh Cheema is survived by his wife Smt Ranjit Kaur and son Agamjot.