Service No : 17143-R F(P)

Date of Birth : April 28, 1962

Place of birth : Dehradun (U'khand)

Last Rank : Squadron Leader

Unit : 152 HU

Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force

Operation : Op Vijay

Awards : Vayu Sena Medal

Martyrdom : May 28, 1999

Squadron Leader Rajiv Pundir VM

Sqn Ldr Rajiv Pundir was born on 28 April 1962 in Dehradun. After completing his schooling from St. Joseph’s Academy. he joined NDA(National Defence Academy) in June 1979 and passed out on 10 June 1982 as part of the 62nd NDA Course. Later he went to the Air Force Academy and was commissioned into the IAF on 29th May 1983 at the age of 21 years. He was commissioned in the flying branch of the IAF and got trained as a helicopter pilot as part of 131 Pilots' course. Sqn Ldr Pundir was an all round officer, and besides being a keen sportsman he had a passion for music and was an accomplished singer. In an effort to gain overall knowledge, he had undergone three training courses from 1992-94 and was awarded an ‘A’ grade in all three courses. Sqn Ldr Pundir also served as an instructor at the College of Military Engineering Pune for a period of three years.


Sqn Ldr Pundir was a keen flier right from the beginning and had over 3000 hours of operational flying to his credit. He had flown almost all types of helicopters available in the IAF inventory. He was experienced on, among other aircraft, the heavy lift Mi-26 Helicopter besides having 2500 hours on the Mi-8 and Chetak/Cheetah helicopters. During his tenure in the 109 Helicopter Unit, Sqn Ldr Pundir actively participated in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka. He was also awarded the CAS commendation for his dedication to duty and professionalism in 1988.


Drass Air Operation (Kargil War) : 28 May 1999


During 1999, Sqn Ldr Rajiv Pundir was serving with No 152 squadron Helicopter Unit, since 12th May 1998. By May 1999, a large-scale planned infiltration by militants backed by the Pakistan army, had been detected in Uri, Batallik, and Drass sectors, and Indian Armed Forces were ordered to clear the areas of the intruders. Along with the operations by the Army, IAF also undertook air operations to meet the objective. One such operation was undertaken by 152 Squadron in the Drass sector. On May 28, Sqn Ldr Pundir was flying as a co-pilot of a Mi-17 helicopter (piloted by Flt Lt S Muhilan) during an attack mission against ground positions strongly held by Pakistani infiltrators in the Drass sector. The enemy forces were well entrenched and were equipped with anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles to take on possible air attacks. The Mi-17 helicopter repeatedly carried out attacks in the face of fierce enemy opposition in the form of ground fire and missiles.


Unfortunately in one of the retaliatory actions by the enemy forces his helicopter got hit by the U.S made Stinger SAM(surface-to-air missile). Since the helicopter took a direct hit, the damage caused was massive and the aircrew had no time to take any emergency maneuvers. The helicopter crashed and the valiant air crew comprising Sqn Ldr Rajiv Pundir, Flt Lt S Muhilan, Sgt Raj Kishor Sahu and Sergeant PVNR Prasad were martyred. Sqn Ldr Pundir’s courageous action, unmindful of the danger to his personal safety typified the courage of the IAF’s helicopter pilots, who have time and again demonstrated such qualities during various air operations. Sqn Ldr Rajiv Pundir was a gallant air warrior and a committed soldier, who laid down his life in the service of the nation.


Sqn Ldr Rajiv Pundir is survived by his wife Smt Sharmila Pundir, daughter Bhavya and son Karan.

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    2023at11:48 am Reply

    All the brave martyr soldiers will live long in our hearts. Mine and my family’s salute to the Soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our peace. Rest in peace all the soldiers. We cannot even imagine the strength and the pain their families have to have to overcome this loss. Prayers with them and may they get all they desire for.

  • Manika Dixit

    2023at12:04 pm Reply

    Being from a defence family has many proud privileges as well as challenges. I wish to let you know today and remember that your nation is forever grateful to you for your service.

    Fortunately & proudly being from a defence family, i could relate to all the stress and struggles that your family feel because of deployment, moving, reuniting after long periods apart or even the loss of dear ones. But what is most courageous of you is to devote yourself for the service of this nation even knowing the hardships, struggles, and what not to come on your way.

    We thank you for all your service, sacrifices, love and affection for the nation. Yours is no less than the contribution made by our soldiers, or even more.

    Jai Hind!!

    With Love,
    Your Extended Family, a Proud Indian!

  • Sandip Sarkar

    2023at12:05 pm Reply

    Mam, you have spoken about the Kargil Foundation trust, would be honoured to be part of the trust as my homage to Shaheed Squadron Leader Rajiv Pundir sir. How to reach out to contribute to the trust?

  • Atit Bhargava

    2023at12:06 pm Reply

    A very dear friend from childhood. I salute you. Shocking and sad. May God bless him and look after his family.

  • Aayush Kumar

    2023at12:06 pm Reply

    भावभीनी श्रद्धान्जली,शत शत नमन!!!

  • Honourpoint

    2023at12:08 pm Reply

    Jai Hind

  • Nikhil Jain

    2023at9:08 am Reply

    I went to school with Rajiv. We were both in St Joseph’s Academy. I have found memories of this wonderful man.

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