Service No : 4810 GD(P)
Date of Birth : December 24, 1932
Place of birth : Kodagu Dist(Kar)
Last Rank : Sqadron leader
Unit : 1 JTW
Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force
Operation : Op Riddle
Awards : Maha Vir Chakra
Martyrdom : September 7, 1965
Squadron Leader Ajjamada Boppayya Devayya hailed from Kodagu district in Karnataka was born on 24 December 1932 at Manchalli village in South Kodagu. Son of Dr Ajjamada Bopayya and Smt Neelamma, he was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on 06 Nov 1954 at the age of 21 years. He joined the flying stream of the IAF and got trained as a fighter pilot as part of 64th Pilots’ course. After completing his flying training, he served with various flying squadrons located at different Air Force bases.
After serving for sometime he got married to Ms Sundari and the couple had two daughters Smitha and Preetha. By 1965, he had put in around 10 years of service and had been promoted to the rank of Sqn Ldr. By then he had evolved into a professionally competent fighter pilot having expertise in various air operations. In the year 1965, Sqn Ldr Devayya was serving as an instructor at the Air Force Flying College, but joined the 1 Sqn at Adampur air base as the war clouds appeared on the horizon in September.
Sargodha Air Attack (Indo-Pak War): 07 Sep 1965
During Sep 1965, Sqn Ldr AB Devayya was serving with 1 Sqn, known as “The Tigers” and was based at Air Force Station Adampur. 1 Squadron of the Indian Air Force was formed at Karachi on 01 April 1933 and was equipped with Westland Wapiti aircraft. In 1953 the Squadron moved to Palam and then to Air Force Base at Kalaikunda in 1957 with Squadron Leader Dilbagh Singh(who later became Chief of Air Staff) as its commanding officer. In 1964 it moved to Adampur with Wing Commander Om Prakash Taneja as its commanding officer. When the 1965 Indo-Pak War broke out, the squadron was tasked with the Air Defence of Punjab sector and providing air cover to our own attacking formations deep inside enemy territory. As part of ongoing efforts to neutralize the air assets of the PAF, IAF planned an air strike on its air base at Sargodha. Sqn Ldr Devayya was part of that aircraft strike mission that went to Sargodha airfield in Pakistan.
Despite actually being a standby in case one of the first 12 aircraft dropped out, he joined the air battle. Sqn Ldr Devayya was intercepted by an enemy F-104 Star-fighter flown by Pakistani pilot Flt Lt Amjad Hussain. Sqn Ldr Devayya had experience as a flying instructor and was adept at various air operations. Utilizing his superior flying skills, Sqn Ldr Devayya successfully evaded the Starfighter’s attacks, but the enemy aircraft caught up with him and damaged his plane by attacking it with its machine guns. Despite flying a damaged aircraft, Sqn Ldr Devayya in a rare display of courage and daredevilry attacked the enemy Star-fighter and damaged it severely. The Star-fighter lost control and crashed while the pilot Flt Lt Hussain ejected from his aircraft. However, the fate of Sqn Ldr Devayya could not be known as his aircraft crashed inside the enemy territory.
From a British writer John Fricker’s work who was appointed by Pakistan to write about the war, the IAF came to know about the true account and in 1988 announced that the “Maha Vir Chakra” was to be awarded to Sqn Ldr Devayya posthumously. He became the first IAF officer to receive “Maha Vir Chakra” posthumously. So far 21 IAF personnel (including two Canberra pilots Wg Cdr Jag Mohan Nath and late Wg Cdr Padmanabha Gautham who have the distinction of receiving the bar to the Maha Vir Chakra) have received the “Maha Vir Chakra” in four wars and numerous actions since 1947. Sqn Ldr AB Devayya was a valiant soldier and committed air warrior, who laid down his life in the line of his duty following the highest traditions of the IAF. Smt Sundari Devayya accepted the “Maha Vir Chakra” awarded to her husband in 1988, nearly 23 years after the war.
Sqn Ldr AB Devayya is survived by his wife Smt Sundari Devayya and two daughters Smitha and Preetha..
The citation for the "Maha Vir Chakra" awarded to him reads:
Squadron Leader Ajjamada Bopayya Devayya (4810) flew as a member of a strike formation that was assigned the task of attacking the heavily defended Sargodha airfield at 0555 hrs on 07 Sep 65. All members of the mission except for Squadron Leader Devayya returned safely to base.
Having accomplished a successful raid over Sargodha airfield at the appointed time, the Mystere aircraft piloted by Squadron Leader Devayya was intercepted by a supersonic F-104 Star-Fighter, which fired Sidewinder missile. Squadron Leader Devayya successfully evaded and the missile hit the ground. However, by virtue of its faster acceleration, the F-104 rapidly closed in on the Mystere, fired a burst of its 20 mm multi-barrel canon and succeeded in damaging Squadron Leader Devayya’s Mystere. The F-104 went ahead of the Mystere due to its higher speed. Undaunted and with utter disregard for his personal safety, Squadron Leader Devayya flew his damaged Mystere in pursuit after the F-104. Maneuvering a damaged aircraft, he finally shot down the F-104. In electing to get into an aerial combat with the F-104 even though his own aircraft was damaged, Squadron Leader Devayya displayed valor of very high order and thereafter followed it up with a display of exceptional flying skill by shooting down an aircraft.
For this exceptional act of conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy and the fighting spirit displayed under overwhelming odds and at the cost of his own life, Squadron Leader Ajjamada Bopayya Devayya is awarded Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.