Service No : IC-51153M
Date of Birth : Sep 09, 1969
Last Rank: Major
Unit : 8 Grenadiers
Arm/Regt : The Grenadiers
Date of Martyrdom : Oct 24, 1996
Major T Shyam Sundar was born on 09 September 1969 in the family of an army officer Lt Col T. B. Ranga Rao (Retd) and Mrs. T. Vijayalakshmi. Being an Army kid, Maj Shyam had to move to various places along with his family during his childhood which made him study in a number of schools including, Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 3, Sassoon Dock Mumbai, Kendriya Vidyalaya Dipatoli, Ranchi and Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 1 Airforce Station Pathankot.
Right from his younger days he nursed the dream of joining NDA and follow in his father’s footsteps to serve in the army. Coming from an Army background Major T. Shyam Sundar had the right combination of courage, boldness, and discipline. Therefore, in his NDA days, he excelled in all aspects of training and passed out with flying colors. During his service career, Maj Shyam led many successful operations and proved his mettle as a committed soldier and true leader. He won the best officer award in his very first rank as a second lieutenant and was mentally and physically the toughest in his battalion.
Kupwara Operation: 1995
In 1995, at the age of 27, Major T Shyam Sundar was made officiating commanding officer of his unit. The unit was deployed and was operating in an extremely sensitive area of Kupwara in J&K. During his stint there, one night while returning from patrolling, Maj Shyam had to undertake a very risky operation, wherein many soldiers had to be rescued who had fallen into a deep pit full of snow. Without worrying for his life even for a second, Maj Shyam spent the entire night leading the rescue operation.
Subsequently, Maj Shyam was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer- Non- Hodgkin’s- Lymphoma (of the lungs) at stage 3. He braved his dangerous illness like a true soldier and never let his family feel depressed or helpless. His struggle with life came to an end on 24th of October 1996 when he breathed his last. His life was cut short but he made it truly inspirational, befitting a proud Indian soldier, living by the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
The Story of a Courageous Life, Cut Short In Its Prime
His sun went down in the morning, While all was fair and bright; But ‘twas not an eclipse of darkness That hid him from our sight: If the life that has gone has been like music, full of sweetness, full of concords, richness, delicacies, and truth, then there are two ways to look at it, One is to say.” I have not lost it.” Another is to say” Blessed by God that I have had it so long.” Beecher. Life is to be reckoned not only extensively, but also intensively: not merely by the number of its days, but also by the amount of thought and energy which we infuse into them. Some people are born to lead and destined to inspire others by setting an example of living life to the fullest and facing their last moments with an uncommon acceptance and courage. Major T. Shyam Sundar was that kind of a person. Childhood is a time when children are busy imbibing and emulating others. Some children display exceptional courage and unique thinking right from a very young age. Adventure was Shyam’s favorite sport right from childhood. At the age of three in trying to feel the water, while taking a boat ride on the bewitching Dal Lake in Kashmir , he fell into it, but held on to the rim of the boat thus enabling my father to lift him up in the nick of time. Coming from an Army background definitely has an element of courage and boldness coupled with the right presence of mind. In another instance, when we were on our way to Bombay VT station, Shyam had alighted in Dadar thinking we had reached. Upon reaching Bombay VT, my father boarded another train back to Dadar to bring him, only to be told by the station master in Bandra that Shyam had managed to find some other battalion moving to Bombay VT and had joined them! This was his presence of mind at the age of 11. Swimming had been Shyam’s passion and having an eczema did not dampen his spirits and enthusiasm, with treatment and permission from the pool authorities , he would get ready everyday for the swimming classes by tying up the foot having the eczema with a plastic cover…… all this without feeling conscious of others . Needless to say he went on to become a champion swimmer. A remarkable quality for a child to have at the age of 14! Joining the National Defence Academy was Shyam’s dream come true…..and he had the best time of his life there…..all the ragging, punishments and the tough training saw him come out with flying colors. Even a fracture was not communicated home lest the parental worries pull him down.
The final year at the Indian Military Academy equipped him with all the necessary qualities and skills which made for a solid foundation. He won the best officer award in his very first rank as a second lieutenant! He was known for being mentally and physically the toughest in his battalion.At this point of time he had helped several soldiers and families financially, for their education, marriages, health and other pressing needs. Having led many successful operations, his expertise in leading from the front was undisputed.
As a major at the age of 27, he was leading an important operation in Kupwara; J & K. Shyam had been made the officiating commanding officer of the operation. One night while returning from patrolling, it had started to snow heavily and the soldiers had fallen into a deep pit full of snow. Without worrying for his life even for a second, Shyam spent the entire night rescuing his soldiers. Lot of snow had gone into his lungs making him ill. Despite this, Major T. Shyam Sundar went on with his duties unflinchingly with equal gusto as before. He knew the LOC at the Machil sector from the back of his hand and led a number of operations successfully, one such operation being one of its only kinds in 1995. His bravery was awarded with many commendation letters from the higher ups. Had media been active those days, this operation would surely have been highlighted. The dearth of officers saw him getting his leave sanctioned very late. Upon his arrival at home , a battery of tests was conducted , revealing a rare form of cancer- Non- Hodgkin’s- Lymphoma(of the lungs)…..stage 3…!
During his six months stay at the Command Hospital Pune…. There was not a single dull moment in any of the wards as he would go up to the patients, cheer them up, play board games with them, relive their glorious days in the forces etc. In his last days when he was declared terminally ill and it was anytime for him, he showed uninhibited courage by forgiving the higher command for sanctioning his leave very late. And the unusual acceptance of a life that was being cut short in its prime! On the last day, he had thanked all the doctors and nurses who had attended to him and all the relatives present. He asked my cousins as to how they had fared in their exams and remembered to wish a cousin on his impending marriage. Shyam made me promise him that I would complete my post graduation without going into the depression. He then put my parent’s hands into mine and asked me to take over from him. And then he requested my reluctant father to release him so that he could pass on……peacefully……it was only after he got the permission that Shyam left with a smile…..He had crossed over……. It is his will power that has made it possible for me to take on my responsibilities in full swing. The qualities of courage, charity, acceptance and forgiveness is what this story is all about…making his short life an inspiration to many….. He was excellence personified…..
This is an affectionate sister’s tribute to her Braveheart brother! His sun went down in the morning While all was fair and bright; But it shines today on the far-away hills, In the land that knows no night.
Tributes from Unit & regiment officers, coursemates and lady wives of officers
Trophy instituted in honour of Shyam is best in BPET ( battle physical efficiency test) shyam being known for being mentally and physically toughest in battalion. I returned to ‘Eighth’ in October 1996 at Machhil, and learnt about Shyam and his bravado as Ghatak Pl Cdr. I was posted to B Coy, and was briefed about the fire assault with RL across the LC, (ahead of Jeevan post) which destroyed few temporary shelters used by Pakistan to aid infiltration. I had a look at the treacherous route taken by the Ghataks and also the remnants of the target. It was a commando style ops, which demanded highest level of physical stamina and mental alertness. Later in 1998 I met Shyam’s Parents and Kavita at Hyderabad. May his soul rest in peace…. Col Ajay pal
Few more fond memories Remember Shyam as a quiet and unassuming officer when I welcomed him into the paltan. Tall and lanky he was physically very fit. Remember him running cross country for the paltan and finishing well ahead of other officers of the Bde. Never could imagine at time he was being gnawed from inside by that dreaded disease. Was shocked to learn about his sad demise when I was in Udhampur. In him the EIGHTH lost a budding soldier officer…. Gen PS Rana
Shyam a thorough soldier,officer and gentleman.family for him encompassed everyone.what he embodied is a legacy for all generations. God bless “handsome”. proud and privileged to be your commanding officer…. Brig G.S Jairam
Shyam sir as i use to address him was a daring officer and a true inspiration for me when i joined the unit. With his killer looks he could have given bollywood star’s run for their money. Fearless and yet compassionate it was my privileged to share the same FRP with him at Tingrie post. Miss those days even now and always will. A true hero! ….Col. Ashish Negi.
I do not understand the military bearing Shyam but you are my baby with the smile that even your enemy would have given up meekly. That was your strength that even in your toughest moments you could smile. I miss that I am not able to make new memories with you. love you so so very much. I firmly believe, that which has utility value will always exist. And god knows that if ever it was needed it now your ability to spread love and happiness. So where ever you are doing that be happy and be blessed…Mrs. Jyoti Jairam w/o brig. G.S. Jairam
Adjutant Machil Post…Major Shyam’s last assignment Col SK Singh : Once Shyam sir took a task to go across n destroy a launching pad of terrorist.. he received the area n route n went with his team,, I was at that time placed at his post Tingri to man a be a communication point… He went for the mission n due to the rugged terrain he got day lighted… Question was to go ahead or wait… He in spite of under direct enemy observation n fire went ahead with the operation n came back successfully after conducting the task… Those days there was no media attention otherwise it was a at that time one of the only surgical strike by our unit…thanks to Shyam sir bravery.
After that operation Sir had selected an ambush point which was along a nala and was overlooking the infiltration entry route used by the militants..it was a difficult place under the nose of Pakis post… One of our ambush was in place.. as any other day I n Sir were in the room chatting. That day our ambush party was to come back.. it was afternoon n we were discussing good weather, fauz n lot of other things in general.. suddenly the phone rang and some massege was passed to sir by the operator.. hearing from other side he looked at me n I understood there’s something wrong.. I asked what..He said one of jawans irfan from the party coming back has stepped on a mine n is injured badly…the party after giving irfan the initial fist aid and informed sir about the gravity of the situation… Hearing all this he just got up… We were in combats,, we both wore shoes n sir just went out,, I followed him n asked what next.. He said I m goin to get the party back.. I too followed but realised sir had moved ahead without weapon,, I turned back to the room took the weapon n followed him,, while running he said SK don’t stop,, keep running because the route he took had mines n we could have stepped over some mine.. n running over them could save us from getting injured.. we reached the site and got irfan back… Later irfan was shifted to hospital where he had to be amputated… .02/07/2017, 00:40 – Col SK Singh:
My dear Shyam was a true soldier,dear to all ranks, compassionate, very smart officer. Visited Shyam at Pune Command hospital before saying BYE BYE from all of us. UNABLE to explain that last meeting. He was the same Shyam & can’t explain the JOY when he met me and the concern shown for MEN of EIGHTH in spite of his critical illness. With special permission from doctors, we went HOME, had lunch together alongwith parents and Kavitha. Though Shyam has left us physically, fond memories will stay with us till our END… Col BP Ramesh
…Col Niranjan Jhakkar
Tributes by Coursemates
The first and most recurring memory that any 80 NDA guy would have of Shyam is that of a tall and handsome guy always bubbling with ‘Josh’ and a booming voice which reverberates input ears even now. Shyam was a guy whose presence in any gathering could not be ignored. From NDA we remember him as a physically tough guy, good in all his endeavours and the force which drove his squadron during outdoor marches. Picture of Shyam leading his squadron ( HUNTER) during runs and route marches, willingly taking on heaviest loads and calling out is still vivid. Bestowed with impeccable character Shyam believed in calling spade a spade. He never hesitated in standing up for his principles and righteousness even if he had to face the wrath of seniors. Shyam left us too early…we were not prepared….unfortunately pre e-age….got to know about it much later. Wish info was shared as fast as it is today…..we all would have made it a point to hold his hand and say a bye. God loved you more than us….Col Sameer Srivastava
Ms Kavita Panyam, Sister of Maj T Shyam Sundar paid tribute to her brother on his “Day of Martyrdom” on 24 Oct 1996…..
My brother, Maj T Shyam Sundar, an officer par excellence, was a wonderful human being and I am fortunate to be born as his sister. His light continues to shine upon all those, whose lives he touched in his short life span of 27 years and made a lasting impact on their psyche.
Shyam was another name for bravery, compassion, love and duty. From a very young age itself, he understood his responsibilities rather well. Maj Shyam had the habit of sharing whatever he had with others, be it with family, friends, strangers or the Regiment fellow officers/soldiers. During his 4 years of service in the Army he often donated part of his salary for noble causes such as weddings, medical treatments of the soldier’s families, their education etc. Not the one to hold back and refuse any call for assistance, Shyam was always eager to help. Shyam was nicknamed as SAMSON in NDA and was known for his physical and mental toughness during his training and also after joining the Regiment of the Grenadiers. Loved by one and all, he was the Josh of “The Eighth”.
It was during a rescue operation in Kupwara in 1996 that snow had gone into his lungs, which made him ill and finally took him away forever, from all of us. In order to inspire other soldiers our father, also an Army officer instituted “Major T Shyam Sundar Memorial Trophy” at his unit, 8 Grenadiers. After our father’s demise in 2004, now I take care of our mother guided by Shyam’s words and deeds. I shared an eternal bond with my brother and I know that he will always be there with me like an angel guiding from above. I have started writing his biography and once completed I am certain that his story would inspire millions of lives.
The qualities of courage, charity, an unusual acceptance of a life being cut short in its prime and forgiveness, is what his story is all about, making his short life an inspiration to many, including me.
My Brave-heart brother, you will forever remain my source of strength and guiding light.
His sun went down in the morning, While all was fair and bright;
But it shines today on the far-away hills, In the land that knows no night.
Ms Kavita Panyam