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R.I.P Marshal Arjan Singh

R.I.P Marshal Arjan Singh
Highlights

On July 27, 2015 when former president APJ Abdul Kalam\'s mortal remains were brought to the Palam Airport for onward journey to Rameshwaram, there was a riveting moment. The whole nation was watching one man who came to pay his tributes to Abdul Kalam ahead of others on a wheelchair.

On July 27, 2015 when former president APJ Abdul Kalam's mortal remains were brought to the Palam Airport for onward journey to Rameshwaram, there was a riveting moment. The whole nation was watching one man who came to pay his tributes to Abdul Kalam ahead of others on a wheelchair.

The wheelchair-bound Padma Vibhushan was among the many dignitaries to lay a wreath at the base of the coffin carrying the mortal remains of Dr Kalam. That was Marshal Arjan Singh and his tribute was the most dignified, the country concluded. It was indeed a touching moment for citizens as well as personnel of the Armed forces to see the highly decorated, aged and uniformed Singh rising out of his wheelchair and using a walking stick to march up to the podium to place a wreath of flowers. Marshal lived and departed in the same fashion.

He was a regular at the Republic Day Parade and seeing him saluting the nation ahead of the parade would fill the hearts of people with pride and a rare warmth. Such was the persona that one would stand up in his presence and reverentially bow one's head. For, he was not ordinary warrior. All of just 44, when he took over as the Chief of a young Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1964, he led the Indian air power to victory in the 1965 war with Pakistan.

His act in personally leading the Air Force over the enemy skies became the stuff of the legends are made of and the next generations recalled it often. The Marshal who passed away on Saturday at an Army facility following a massive cardiac arrest lived up to a ripe age of 98. This first Indian Air Force Chief who led the force into a war, was conferred the rank of Marshal of the Air Force in January 2002, becoming the one and only "Five Star" rank officer of the skies.

Seventy years ago, as a Group Captain, Marshal Arjan Singh, commandeered the first ever fly past over the Red Fort at the request of Jawaharlal Nehru. Fighter Bomber 'Tempest Aircraft' of his Squadron No-3 flew in from Agra base and reached the Palam base under his stewardship. It is said Group Captain Arjan Singh spent a day before inspecting the topography of the Red Fort as one had to rely entirely on his sight and instincts in the absence of the present-day technology.

This year, the Marshal witnessed the first batch of indigenous air craft Tejas fly past during the R-Day Parade and perhaps, he was the happiest man ever. Later, he went ahead to build the IAF into a premier force.

The Marshal was born in Lyallpur (now Pakistan's Faislabad) on April 15, 1919 into a family where three generations before him had served the Army only to fly, fight and win in air and space with pride and honour. For many years after his retirement, he continued to have an influence on numerous service issues, all with a view to improving its capabilities and public image. Thank you Marshal for protecting our skies.

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