Service No : 3853 GD(P)
Date of Birth : Jan 25,1927
Service: Air Force
Last Rank: Squadron Leader
Unit : 104 HU AF
Award: Vayu Sena Medal
Operation: Indo-China War Ops
Date of Martyrdom: Oct 20, 1962
Squadron Leader Vinod Kumar Sahgal was born on 25 January, 1927. He was commissioned in AirForce on 15 Apr 1950 and served till 20 Oct 1962.
On 1st May 1961, one Dakota aircraft, while on a sortie near the U.P./Tibet border area was reported missing, Squadron Leader Sahgal, who was commanding a Helicopter unit, volunteered to lead the Helicopter Detachment personally to locate the missing aircraft and conduct the rescue operations. This task not only involved reconnaissance over a hazardous mountainous area under unfavourable weather conditions but also entailed considerable administrative and logistic planning in moving the detachment at short notice to various advanced outposts. He ferried the helicopter form his parent unit to an advanced base on 2nd May and commenced intensive search of the area where the aircraft was reported to have crashed. Due to conflicting reports regarding the location of the crashed aircraft, it became necessary to modify the operational and logistical plans frequently and adjust it suitably to meet the situation. Next day he resumed the search and succeeded in establishing that the aircraft had not crashed in the area reported. By this time information had been received that the surviving members of the crew had reached one of the advance Army out posts.
Squadron Leader Sahgal had therefore to move his detachment further up in order to rescue the survivors who were injured and needed immediate evacuation. Despite the difficult terrain and bad weather, he succeeded in locating a s suitable landing area. In evacuating the survivors, Squadron Leader Sahgal took an extremely bold step to fly out two survivors at a time, there by completing the evacuation in the least possible time. With a view to recover the bodies of the dead, he was detailed to further reconnoiter the area. In spite of fatigue, he carried out the search. During all these flights, Squadron Leader Sahgal had to fly his helicopter practically to the limits of the performance under adverse weather conditions.
He was awarded with Vayu Sena Medal (VM) for undertaking this extremely difficult and risky mission.
Rescue Mission to Tsangdhar (20 Oct 1962)
During the Chinese aggression in October 1962, Squadron Leader Sahgal was involved in flying rescue mission from Zimithang, an advanced army base, to rescue the casualty from Tsangdhar outpost where the fight was blazing. The Tsangdhar post was located at 11,500 ft and was surrounded by craggy 14000 – 15000 ridges. There was no proper helipad and the chopper had to land at improvised clearing in the midst of huge boulders and craggy rocks. On 20 October 1962, Squadron Leader Sahgal flew from Zimithang in his Bell 47-G3 rescue helicopter. He was accompanied with signal officer of the base and the mission this time was to restore the communication between Tsandhar and Zimithang. As the helicopter didn’t come back after considerable time , a second helicopter piloted by squadron Leader Arnold Sochindronath was sent to trace them. When the helicopter reached Tsangdhar there was no sign of Indian contingent there and soon it was attacked viciously by the Chinese guns. The Pilot somehow managed
As the Tsandhar outpost was taken over by the Chinese forces it is presumed that Sqn Ldr Sehgal got killed after he made the landing there. Though the Chinese never accepted about his killing nor the helicopter was returned by them after the war, all the signs indicated Sqn Ldr Sahgal’s death at the hands of Chinese forces.
Sqn Ldr Sehgal was a valiant air warrior and a committed soldier who laid down his life in the service of the nation.
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