Last Rank : Sergeant
Unit : 110 HU AF
Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force
Operation : CI & IS Ops
Martyrdom : November 19, 2010
Sergeant M Debanath joined the IAF as a technical tradesman after completing his schooling and subsequently got trained on helicopters. He was on the posted strength of 110 HU unit based at a forward air base in the north east in 2010. This helicopter unit played a major role in maintaining the army units deployed in far flung areas of the north east by air dropping the essential supplies. Sgt M Debanath was a technical tradesman trained on MI-17 helicopter and was part of the technical team of the unit responsible for carrying out the maintenance and servicing of the aircraft.
Air-Maintenance Sortie : 19 Nov 2010
During Nov 2010, Sgt M Debanath was serving with 110 HU based at Air Force Station Tezpur in Assam. The unit was operating Mi-17 transport helicopter, extensively used for air transport and logistics operations. 110 HU was raised at Tezpur with MI-4 helicopters on 10 Aug 1963 with Flight Lieutenant Krishan Kant Saini as its first Commanding Officer. Later on it was equipped with the versatile Mi-17 transport helicopters. Over the years, the unit had been providing assistance to civil authorities in entire North East, West Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. During that time, a number of Indian army units were deployed at many far-flung areas in the northeast sector where no motorable roads existed. The most of the supplies to these units were dependent on airdrops, undertaken by Indian Air Force as Air Maintenance operations. Sgt M Debanath was tasked for one such air maintenance mission as crew member of the aircraft on 19 Nov 2010.
“Air-maintenance” sorties meant helicopter-aided support of forward army posts on the China frontier, at altitudes of 8,000ft to 14,000ft, where winds were high and oxygen density was almost 30 percent lower, and where supplies were either para-dropped or the helicopters made touch-and-go landings. The air-maintenance sortie of Mi-17 helicopter(Z-3026) belonging to 110 Helicopter Unit of the IAF( The helicopter and the air crew belonged to 110 HU except Flt Lt Akash Yadav, who was serving with 118 HU) took off from Tawang as planned on 19 Nov 2010 with 12 passengers on board including the air crew. Mi-17 with Sgt M Debanath as air crew had a smooth flight in the beginning, but apparently developed a serious snag after some time. One of the rotor blades of the helicopter apparently broke and a blast too was heard in the mid air and soon the helicopter crashed.
The ill-fated Mi-17 helicopter crashed near the China frontier on a wooden hillock at Tepsha village near Bomdir area, about 6km from Tawang, from where it had taken off, at about 12:04 pm, leaving no survivors. This was the second time a plane had crashed mid-air on China's frontier in the same year. Besides Sgt M Debanath, the other brave hearts who lost their lives in the accident included Lt Col Mandar Nene, Flt Lt Akash Yadav, Flt Lt N Rai, Sgt MK Sharma, Cpl P Singh, AC Rahul, LAC A Bhandari, LAC S Kumar, Sgt A Kumar, LAC Sudhakar and LAC Mohan. Sgt M Debanath was a committed air warrior, who laid down his life in the service of the nation.