Martyr's Diaries: The Only PVC of IAF, Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon


Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon was born on 17 July 1943 in the village of Isewal, Ludhiana, Punjab Province, British India. He was the son of M.W.O. (Honorary) Flight Lieutenant Tarlok Singh Sekhon. He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on 4 June 1967 as a Pilot Officer. 


 Indo-Pakistani War-1971

In December 1971, he was serving with the No.18 Squadron, Pakistan attacked at 14 air fields all across North India to preempt the Indian Air Force. At this time Nirmaljit Singh was posted at the forward base in Kashmir with the squadron named Flying bullets. His plane was an obsolete Gnat. Their airfield was attacked on 14th December 1971. The only available pilot at this time at Srinagar Base was Nirmal Jit Singh. Flying from Srinagar on Dec 14th, Sekhon single-handedly took on all six PAF Sabres. Although eventually overwhelmed, he managed to take score confirmed hits on two of them, and damage on rest of them. Once the Pakistan Sabres ran away he managed to land his Gnat just before his death due to bullets piercing through his body. 

 The bravery, flying skill and determination displayed by Flying Officer Sekhon, against odds of 1:6, earned him India's highest wartime medal for gallantry, the Param Vir Chakra. He is the only officer of the Indian Air Force to receive Param Vir Chakra.  


LEGACY

A marine tanker built in 1985 was named Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, PVC.

A statue in tribute of Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon was erected at the district court of Ludhiana (first erected at Samrala Chowk, Ludhiana) in the courtyard next to the flag pole. A decommissioned Folland Gnat fighter is part of the memorial and serves as a gate guardian.


His statue along with a decommissioned Folland Gnat fighter has been placed in the Indian Air Force Museum, Palam.

CITATION 

FG OFFR NIRMAL JIT SINGH SEKHON

18 SQUADRON 10877 F(P)

Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon was a pilot of a Gnat detachment based at Srinagar for the air defence of the valley against Pakistani air attacks. From the very outbreak of the hostilities he and his colleagues fought successive waves of intruding Pakistani aircraft with valour and determination, maintaining the high reputation of the Gnat aircraft. On 14 December 1971, Srinagar airfield was attacked by a wave of enemy Sabre aircraft. Flying Officer Sekhon was on readiness duty at the time. Immediately, however, no fewer than six enemy aircraft were overhead, and they began bombing and strafing the airfield. In spite of the mortal danger of attempting to take off during the attack, Flying Officer Sekhon took off and immediately engaged a pair of the attacking Sabres. In the fight that ensued, he secured hits on one aircraft and damaged another. By this time the other Sabre aircraft came to the aid of their hard-pressed companions and Flying Officer Sekhon's Gnat was again outnumbered, this time by four to one.

Even though alone, Flying Officer Sekhon engaged the enemy in an unequal combat. In the fight that followed, at treetop height, he almost held his own, but was eventually overcome by the sheer weight of numbers. His aircraft was shot down by a gunfire of one of the Sabres and he was killed.

The sublime heroism, supreme gallantry, flying skill and determination above and beyond the call of duty displayed by Flying Officer Sekhon in the face of certain death have set new heights in Air Force traditions.

Dead upon the field of glory, Hero fit for song and story. 

Sir, May your soul REST IN POWER.  

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