Every year we amend our travel plans trying to escape the unnecessary tension that cloaks mountains during monsoons – landslides, heavy rains, who wants that? But despite everything, these nature-related-calamities do affect the lifestyle of those who live here.Just like every year, Arunachal Pradesh stuck between massive landslides and torrential rains, leading to a lot of tension. The current situation put many lives in danger, which is why the Indian Air Force intervened. One such operation by IAF that was aimed to rescue people who were lost in this natural disaster turned out to be quite fatal for its own officers.Meet Wing Commander Mandeep Singh Dhillon, who died in an unfavourable accident on 4th of July, was India’s true braveheart. The IAF officer was one of the brightest stars in a chasm full of twinklers. He has accomplished over 18 years of flying experience where he’s conquered a variety of challenging situations. Unfortunately, this operation, which could have been one of the many events he so easily succeeded, turned out to be the last one. Officer Mandeep was on a landslide-hit evacuation mission in Arunachal Pradesh jungles.The IAF officer had already rescued 169 people on 5 sorties and was on his 6th sortie to Sagalee village when the weather exacerbated beyond managing any hold of it. Mandeep and the team gathered that the weather isn’t appropriate to carry civilians and decided not to risk their lives. It is then when they flew without any people on board but within minutes after taking off the ground station lost contact with them.Later it came to everyone’s notice that the helicopter has crashed and we’ve lost everyone onboard. Along with Wing Commander Mandeep, we’ve lost flight engineer, a policeman from Arunachal Pradesh, and Flight Lieutenant Singh in the ill-fated Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. “We are deeply hurt and shocked by the news. It is an irreparable loss. He was to achieve great success in the IAF given his intelligence and young age. This unfortunate incident has cut the dream short.” said one of Wing Commander Dhillon’s neighbours, H S Puri, a retired engineer from the Military Engineering Service (MES).The demise has shocked everyone who’s ever known Mandeep, for they knew that he was a man of sheer excellence. An alumnus of the Rashtriya Indian Military College in Dehradun and the National Defence Academy or NDA, he was a long-distance runner and has won almost every run he’s ever participated. His kin and acquaintances claim that he was a true leader who stayed loyal to his duties till his last breath. “Wing Commander Dhillon has 18 years of experience. He has flown in many difficult terrains and has been part of challenging missions. He was arguably one of the finest helicopter pilots. From icy mountains to the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh, he volunteered to go on any mission,” said a senior IAF officer who asked not to be named,sources.Thousands of people at the Indian Air Force and some hundreds in Patiala are breaking into helpless tears, but there’s only so much we can say in the honour of a man who’s served the country selflessly.
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