Air Veterans Association

The Felicitation – 1971 War Heroes and Amazing Air Veteran

“Surround yourself with winners” or “align with good / total quality people”, has been the buzzword for me for the past three years and accordingly, I have been maintaining an Elite Air Warriors Group with Amazing Air Veterans. We used to feel the urge to bring all the Amazing Air Warriors on a single platform to understand, share knowledge, network and mutually support each other.

JWO SD Pathak ji approached me about a year back with an idea to come up with an e-book kind of publication collating stories of 1971 War Heroes of IAF as he was denied participation in the Naval Group. That was the starting point which triggered me to think “why not we conduct the webinars of all our Air Warriors who fought valiantly during 71 War and proved Air Superiority by their sheer bravery, professional skill, and dedication to duty of high order?” I did have the idea of Zoom calls earlier as I was undergoing coaching as a Life Coach and simultaneously conducting Zoom meetings for our employees.

We conducted our first Zoom Meeting on 16th December 2020 where our president Air Marshal B N Gokhale PVSM AVSM VM started with his opening address followed by the sharing of war and POW experiences of Air Cmde JL Bhargava. In fact, JWO SD Phatak ji has been highly effective in connecting with all the 1971 War Heroes. Thus, our WhatsApp Group of 1971 War Heroes started with the sharing of information on Sunday Webinars regularly.

In due course, we enlarged our base of super Air Warriors, subsequently named as Amazing Air Veterans who phenomenally succeeded in civil life by occupying various positions like that of VC, IAS, IPS, IRC, MLAs, MPs, Entrepreneurs, Judges of High Court, Advocates, Corporate Professionals, Govt. Officers, Professors, Doctorates, etc. In order to showcase the greatness of IAF and to motivate and inspire our Air Veterans, we started the Wednesday Webinars for Amazing Air Veterans and kept on uploading all recordings on YouTube by the name – “TBR THE UNSTOPPABLE”, apart from sharing in the WhatsApp Groups.

That’s how kindled the bondage of IAF among Air Veterans and both the War Heroes and Amazing Air Veterans started sharing their stories to the participating members and enjoyed by expressing their personal experiences with a lot of enthusiasm, happiness, love, and affection that kept on regaining, unifying, and strengthening the bondage of Air Force.

Thus, so far we have conducted about 50 such webinars and uploaded about 150 video recordings. The dream of bringing all the Amazing Air Veterans and War Heroes on a single platform came true on 30th and 31st October 2021 when we conducted the two-days program of Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Celebrations in Hyderabad with the kind support of Brig. Abhijit Chandra, Dy GOC, HQs TASA by way of providing sufficient accommodation at one place – Oasis Centre near MC, EMC, Bolaram besides,all available accommodation, dinning, and conference halls in newly built and well maintained Golden Palm Sainik Bhavan, near Secunderabad Railway Station.

Apart from excellent accommodation, the food facility provided by Tirupati Enterprises (through Mr. Sandeep Roy) at the instance of Dy GOC was of high quality coupled with excellent services. Special mention must be made of the guidance and support given by Lt. Gen. KG Kishore, PVSM AVSM SM VSM (Retd) who identified and guided for availing of Oasis accommodation and other facilities.

Thus, the two-days national level program with Air Veterans and War Heroes coming from Mumbai to Agartala (Tripura) and Chandigarh to Kanyakumari, covering North to South and East to West of the country went off very well.

Coming to AVA, we created and got registered an organization in the name of Air Veterans Association (AVA) on 08th October 2021, with timely idea from Dr. Satbir, to coincide with the Air Force Day with an overwhelming support from all War Heroes and Amazing Air Veterans as the founding members. Finally, we took 10 mandatory members as Executive Council with Air Marshal BN Gokhale PVSM AVSM VM (R) as President, Air Cmde RM Sridharan VM (R) as Senior Vice President, JWO Phatak (R) as Vice President, Self (TBR) as General Secretary, Sgt Dr. Satbir Yadav as Joint Secretary, Sgt Dr. MS Rao as Treasurer, Wg Cdr Krishnamurthy as Organizing Secretary, HFL KV Rao as Joint Treasurer, Sgt Sapkal and CPL/DIG TRK Murthy as Members.

As for the felicitation programme at Hyderabad, we just wanted to make this event as memorable for the participating veterans and accordingly, arranged a grand welcome and honored them by announcing their name and contribution

during the flights in the presence of accompanying passengers. Also, on arrival at Hyderabad airport, they were welcomed with bouquets by the Airlines’ staff at the reception center arranged within the Airport by Capt RR Reddy and

T Venkateswarlu. The reception at Airport was so wonderful that all guests felt extremely happy for such a grand welcome. I too was fortunate in receiving some of the VIP Guests like AM AD Joshi, W/C Grewal, Shri & Smt Ramesh

Agarwal, Shri & Smt JWO SS Rao, Shri & Smt Adv Desai, Dr. Shyam Raghunandan, and others. The Guests were received with a lot of love and affection by the reception committee and escorted by the Transport Committee led by HFL KV Rao & Sgt Manohar Reddy. Accommodation and food etc. was taken care of by HFO Jagannadham and Sgt Varunan Muthu and their teams at OASIS Center and,a team of Sgt Sastry, Sgt Srinivas Murthy, and others at GPSB. The responsibility for preparation and sponsorship of Souvenirs, etc. were taken by Sgt Dr M S Rao and Sgt Dr. Satbir. The variety of gifts arranged by Dr. Satbir Yadav, through different companies, added an appropriate value to the function, apart from ensuring whole some drinks for the evening event of 30th Oct 2021.

All War Heroes and Amazing Air Veterans were invited on stage to share their experience. The grand reception was planned, arranged, and executed meticulously. All participants engaged with each other with lot of nostalgia and fun. Empathy and gratitude to the Air Force was spoken and heard loud by one and all. 

The get-together was a unique opportunity for all the veterans to interact with each other and understand how the IAF helped them to develop, grow, evolve, and transform their life in civil environment with an amazing amount of gratitude to IAF for their extraordinary success in the second (post service) inning. 

The felicitation of War Heroes and Amazing Air Veterans was held in Ravindra Bharathi Auditorium, Hyderabad on 31st Oct 2021. The special attraction was the presence of NCC students provided by Dy DG NCC Air Cmde TSS Krishnan, apart from more than 500 participants – filled the auditorium to its capacity.

Hon’ble Governor of Haryana Shri Bandaru Dattatreya Garu – the Chief Guest, was received by AVA President, Vice President, General Secretary (Self), Joint Secretary and other functionaries. As per the protocol, we were to finish the

program in 40 minutes yet, we continued for 1 Hour 20 Minutes, commencing with the speech by AVA President, followed by the felicitation of all War Heroes and some of the important Amazing Air Veterans by the Chief Guest.

The Chief Guest was also kind enough to release 3 books – “Valiants -IAF” by JWO SD Phatak, “Through the Rotors DISC” written by Wg Cdr SS Krishna Murthy and “TBR The Unstoppable ”written by me, apart from the Souvenir

compiled by Dr MS Rao (Treasurer). The entire program was relayed live that was watched by hundreds of people across the globe. Hon’ble Governor made an exciting speech by paying rich tributes to 1971 war heroes and the crucial

role played by the armed forces of India for liberating Bangladesh. Hon’ble Governor also appreciated the efforts of the AVA in organizing such a unique and historic Swarnim Vijaya Varsh Victory celebrations at the national level. Thus, the program went-off very well by honoring all the war heroes and amazing air veterans. All participants were proudly happy to have so many war heroes among them and thus, enjoyed the historic program. The Hon’ble Governor spent almost one and half hour before we saw him off after a brief TV interview and photos with the NCC Cadets and other volunteers.

The felicitation of the remaining Amazing Air veterans and the 1971 War Participants continued by other guests like Air Marshal Harish Masand VrC VM AM (R), Air Marshal AD Joshi PVSM VM M in D (R), Wg Cdr Grewal VrC Ex-PoW (Retd), Air Cmde JL Bhargava Ex-PoW ( Retd), Gp Capt DK Dighe VrC VM (Retd), Wg Cdr PPS Kwatra VrC (Retd) ,and the President of AVA – Air Marshal BN Gokhale PVSM AVSM VM (Retd). More than 200 Air veterans who participated in 1971 War were honored including all the members of the organizing committee.

Everything went off very well and the program that started at 3 PM ended by 7 PM. Thereafter, about 200 air veterans including Guests were taken to Police Officers’ Mess at Masab Tank for Dinner and all of them enjoyed a good dinner over interactions and networking. 

The War Heroes and the Amazing Air Veterans were so happy for the event and the opportunity of interacting with one another, recognition, and honour bestowed upon them by felicitations and the extraordinary care taken by the organizing team members in providing hearty reception, kind and warm hospitality, wonderful transportation arrangements and personal care taken by the organizing teams. It was like a dream come true for many to directly interact such high-ranking officers during two days and, the way senior officers interacted, responded, and appreciated all Air Veterans was really incredible, awesome, and without any reservations

We were also happy to provide all outstation guests with transportation facilities from their respective accommodations, next day from 4.30 morning to till evening by flight or train as per their choice. We ensured 100% transportations to all of them. We also arranged for accommodation and food for the Guests who arrived earlier and left later than the main 2 days. Thus, all the Guests were heartily welcomed, carefully looked after, honorably felicitated, and ensured safe return by the herculean efforts of the Team Hyderabad.

Thus, the two-day mega event was a grand success connecting so many air veterans and war heroes together from all ranks, regions, religions, status, position, and language, etc. symbolizing the true India resonating with unity and

integrity for the first time, outside the serving period with Indian Air Force.

This is just a beginning of AVA. It’s best is yet to come.

Long live IAF ! Long live AVA !! Jai Hind !!!

AIR VETERAN SGT. T BHOGESHWAR RAO,
GENERAL SECRETARY