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Battle in the Sky:a Tribute to My Best Friend Harvinder Singh Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice and Went to Valahalla

A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College, and a PG in military studies. He is qualified to write on war and allied matters

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Early days in school

I and Harvinder were classmates at the Airforce School. We were the best of friends and had a third companion Manjit Singh. The trio of us was known as the 'three musketeers.' Harvinder Singh was one of the towering personalities of the class. He dwarfed over us with his height of over 6 feet. Harvinder joined the Air Force a little earlier than me as I went to college and came in later as a direct entry.

Days in school were wonderful as many times we bunked classes and on cycles would go as far as Ghaziabad almost 30 miles away. We played cricket and hockey and I thought that was an idyll world. School now seems a distant past but I do recollect Harminder standing by me when a bully accosted me and pinned him to the earth. This was not liked by the principal Mr. Ranjan and he immediately called Harvinder, warned him, and give him a punishment of running around a football ground 20 times.

We were both members of the school cricket XI and had many memorable matches.I remember both of us batting against Modern School and it appeared we would Lose as we had lost four wickets for nothing. I and Harvinder batted with aplomb and with drives and square cuts put the Modern School bowling to the sword we won.


Harvinder appeared before the No 1 Air Force Selection Board at Dehradun. He was selected. A few Seasons later I also appeared at the same selection Board. Harvinder was commissioned as a pilot officer and was converted onto the SU-7 aircraft. This was the supersonic fighter bomber of Soviet origin used by the Indian Air Force.

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Air Force and the Supreme Sacrifice

War clouds gathered from across the border and the airforce got ready for combat. Harvinder had by now made a name for himself in the air force as he had a Honda motorcycle and was affectionately called 'Honda Singh'. The Sukhoi -7 was a supersonic fighter bomber and could be used for the ground support role. There was a chink in its armor because when after a ground attack mission, it turned back there was always some loss of power which came to be known as the "Sukhoi Sink" and for those few seconds, the plane was very vulnerable as it took time to build up speed again.

It was during this phase that many Sukhio's were lost. Harvinder had joined 222 Squadron and it was pressed into service for a ground attack role. On that fateful day, a flight of SU-7's led by the flight commander embarked on the operational mission. Harvinder was part of the mission. The plane he flew had the tail number B749.

The squadron attacked the enemy soldiers on the ground and then turned back when they were accosted by enemy J6 aircraft. A dog fight commenced and one of Harvinder's colleagues was hemmed in by 2 enemy J-6. Without a thought, my friend jumped into the fray and engaged the enemy. His colleague flew away and Harvinder faced the enemy planes. He shot down one but was hit by a missile fired by another J-6. As per reports the plane caught fire and crashed and in the split-second, Harvinder could not eject and paid the supreme price for the nation.

Last word

Many years of elapsed now and Harminder's name is inscribed in the roll of honor of the War Memorial in Delhi. Life and death is an eternal cycle but unlike other people, a soldier's death always has meaning because he dies, so that others may live. Our third musketeer captain Manjeet Singh had joined the army and his jeep hit a mine and blew up taking Manjeet also to the next world.

Harvinder was a bachelor though he was dating a girl. I don't know what happened to her but that's part of the game. My mind sometimes reverts to the days of school and how we Three Musketeers had a hell of a great time. The great guru Nanak has said this life is part of an endless cycle that leads to rebirth and transmigration of the soul unless you get salvation. It is my belief that Harvindar has gone to Valhalla, the land of the gods and he has got salvation and I am sure he will not have rebirth.

Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 11, 2020:

Thanks, Tom, nice info

tom on October 11, 2020:

two su 7s flew back to base with embedded sidewinders -pilots rai and mangat

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 03, 2020:

thanks for your comment.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 01, 2020:

Thanks for your info

tom on September 30, 2020:

he may be alive in pakistan ,my thesis was prisoners of war,su 7 had zero gravity ejection seat,pilots from my state kerala are in pakistan jails

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 30, 2020:

Thanks, Tom for your comment.

tom on September 30, 2020:

iaf had 140 or 200 su 7s ,lost 20 in 1971 war

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 16, 2020:

Tom, I appreciate your comment. Yes, this was the drawback of the SU7

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 31, 2020:

Thank you Flourish, it's so nice of you to have commented.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 30, 2020:

I’m sorry for the loss of both of your dear friends.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 28, 2020:

IN Rebello, thank you for commenting and joining me to pay tribute to Harvinder

Squadron Leader IN Rebello on August 28, 2020:

Thanks, MG, for writing this lovely article. I was the squadron mate of Harvinder and we had many a good time in the crew room. I still remember him as Honda Singh and am I am glad somebody has remembered him.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 28, 2020:

Thank you Vanita for your heartfelt comment

Vanita Thakkar on August 27, 2020:

Heartiest tributes to the warriors who lay their lives down for the country !! They truly deserve salvation.