[Watch] Air Chief Marshal Leads Missing Man Formation To Pay Tribute To Kargil Martyr
Exactly 20 years back, on May 27, 36-year-old Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja was martyred during the Kargil conflict. On Monday, the Indian Air Force gave, what could be called a befitting tribute to Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja and other martyrs who laid down their lives for the nation in ‘Operation Safed Sagar’.
Interestingly, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa led a four aircraft, MIG-21 missing man formation from Air Force station, Bhisiana in Bhatinda, Punjab. He was accompanied by Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) Western Air Command Air Marshal R Nambiar. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, after the flypast, said that this could be the first time that an Air Chief and AOC-in-C flew in the same formation to pay homage.
Tribute to Martyrs
ACM Dhanoa and Air Marshal flew MIG-21 Type 96 aircraft. After the flypast, ACM Dhanoa paid respects by laying a wreath at the War Memorial. Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja’s widow was also present at the ceremony and she also paid her tributes.
Air Mshl R Nambiar, AOC-in-C WAC-a Kargil veteran-was part of the formation.
On this day in 1999, S/L Ajay Ahuja VrC (P) laid down his life during the Kargil war. He was at that time the Flight Commander of 17 Sqn. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/RZwcjdnvPp
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) May 27, 2019
On May 27, 1999, Sqn Ldr Ahuja was flying the MIG 21MF fighter C-1539 during operation Sagar. His aircraft was hit by a shoulder-fired FIM-92 Stinger. In his last radio call, he said, “Hercules, something has hit my plane, the possibility of missile hit cannot be ruled out, I am ejecting over…(location).”
Sqn Ldr Ahuja managed to eject out of the aircraft, however, was reportedly killed by Pakistani soldiers. It was alleged that severe physical tortured was inflicted upon him based on the postmortem report. However, the Pakistani authorities denied it, suggesting that Ahuja was killed due to injuries during ejection or landing.
Squadron Leader Ahuja was honoured with the Vir Chakra for his supreme sacrifice, posthumously.
‘Missing Man’ Formation
Missing man formation is part of an aerial salute. It is marked by a flypast of aircraft at the funeral or a memorial event of a fallen military hero. There are several variates of this formation. Generally, in the inverted V formation, there is a gap between two aircraft in the formation depicting the ‘missing man’.
Earlier this year, the Missing Man formation was flown at the Aero Show India to pay tribute to Surya Kiran pilot who lost his life in a mid-air collision during the training session.