Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, PVC – Saviour of Srinagar
Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon (aka Nimmy) was born on July 17, 1943 at Rurka Isewal village in Ludhiana. His father was Honorary Flight Lieutenant (Warrant Officer) Tarlochan Singh Sekhon in IAF. F/O Sekhon was commissioned into IAF on June 4, 1967 as fighter pilot; his service no was 10877 F(P).
During the 1971 war he was posted with No. 18 Squadron, ‘The Flying Bullets’ flying Folland Gnat fighter aircrafts stationed at Srinagar. On fateful day, 14 December 1971, Srinagar airfield was attacked by 6 PAF F-86 jets. Flying Officer Sekhon was on readiness duty at that time. Soon the enemy aircraft started hovering over the airfield. Strafing of various targets on the ground followed. Attempting to take-off with enemy aircraft overhead was inviting mortal danger. However, Flying Officer Sekhon, unmindful of his safety, flew his Folland Gnat to engage the two attacking Sabres. In the air battle that ensued, he secured a direct hit on one Sabre and set another ablaze. The latter was seen heading away towards Rajauri, trailing smoke and flame.
At this juncture four more Pakistani Sabres came on the scene and surrounded his aircraft. He chose to give a fight again. In the dog fight that ensued at tree-top level, he held on against the numerically superior enemy for some time. Eventually, his aircraft was hit and he was killed. But Flying Officer Sekhon had achieved his objective. The Pakistani aircraft fled from the scene of the battle, without pressing home, the intended attack on Srinagar airfield and its surrounding areas. The bravery, flying skill and determination displayed by Flying Officer Sekhon, earned him the highest wartime gallantry medal, Param Vir Chakra. To this day he remains only IAF warrior to have this honour. His skill was later praised in an article by the pilot W/C Salim Baig Mirza who shot him down.
Anurag Rana has created a wonderful animation of the entire sequence of event leading to martyrdom of the brave son of Bharat Mata. Please watch this intriguing video and do spare a minute to reflect on sacrifices these brave sons made and what we gave to them. Do spare a minute please.