Air Marshal Manmohan Singh (retd), who was awarded the third highest gallantry award of the nation, Vir Chakra, in the 1971 war, passed away here on Tuesday. He was 89.
Born in Sialkot in pre-Partition Punjab, Air Marshal M M Singh, as he was better known as, had settled down in Jalandhar after Partition and completed his studies there before joining the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Commissioned in 1951, he went on to command three squadrons — No. 24, No. 26 and No. 15 — the last one in 1971 war while the squadron was stationed in Bagdogra in West Bengal.
During the India-Pakistan conflict of December 1971, his squadron flew 110 sorties in Bangladesh in close support and anti-shipping roles and met all its operational commitments without damage to any of its aircraft.
His citation for award of Vir Chakra says he personally led 19 sorties and successfully engaged enemy defence positions, gun boats and ships despite heavy ground fire.
“When the heliborne operations across the Maghana river commenced, his squadron provided very effective air cover for the successful completion of the task. In addition, the squadron provided valuable support to the Army in Agartala Sector in spite of the fact that the aircraft had to operate from a short runway at Agartala. Throughout the operations, he displayed courage and devotion to duty of a high order,” the citation says.
Air Marshal MM Singh was Station Commander of 11 Wing in Tezpur in Assam as a Group Captain and Commanded 1 Wing in Srinagar as Air Commodore.
He served in various staff appointments too, including Air Officer in charge Personnel in Air HQs.
He was serving as AOC-in-C Western Air Command in 1988 when he was passed over for promotion as Chief of Air Staff. Air Marshal M M Singh chose to take premature retirement rather than serve under a junior officer.
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