2010-04-25 00:12:53 UTC
VALMIKI FALEIRO continues with the concluding part of the sequel to his story
published in the HERALD Sunday Mirror on 28 Feb 2010.
Last Sunday, we reviewed some Goan IAF officers who died in service. Let's now
look at those who retired or are serving, some decorated for gallantry or service.
Names are arranged first by rank, then by seniority. Where seniority is not known,
they are listed alphabetically under the sub-heading, "Others."
We checked Gallantry awards (in war and in peace) last time. Service awards are:
Vishist Sena Medal, Ati Vishist Seva Medal and Param Vishist Seva Medal. These
are used in abbreviated form. Citations, if available, are in quote marks and within
brackets, but condensed from the original.
*Terence Joseph de Sa, PVSM. Com. Oct-1947, he was a versatile fighter pilot who
flew 31 types of aircraft including helicopters. He was the first AOC-in-C of Southern
Air Command. A talented and multi-skilled officer, he was invited for diverse IAF
honorary work in India and abroad after retirement. Died Jan-1998. From Sangolda.
*Dinanath Ramchandra Nadkarni, VSM when Sqn Ldr, AVSM when Gp Capt and
PVSM when AVM in 1996.
*Gordon Peter D'Souza, AVSM when AVM in 2004.
Air Vice Marshal
*Loreto Pestana Pereira, PVSM in 1982. He was Systems expert at Air HQ. His
brother, late Reinerio Pereira, was a neighbour in Margao. From Ganapoga-Raia.
*Angelo Reginald Lobo. President's Gold Medal in the wake of Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
He was with a transport SQN flying Packet-C119. An off-duty road accident almost
cost him a leg (read about that incredible story another day), but he resumed flying
and was CO of Paratroopers Training School. He opted for Civil Defence as its Dy
Director General. Was in action after the Union Carbide factory gas leak in Bhopal on
03 Dec 1984. Exposure to radiation during sorties to Bhopal felled him with cancer.
From Bodiem-Tivim.*Kevin Fernandes, VSM in 2007.
*Sidney Basil Noronha, MVrC in 1950 in J&K ops. ("Completing more than 37 sorties
with maximum success in the face of adverse conditions, Wg Cdr Noronha showed
outstanding gallantry and set an inspiring example to all under his command.") One
of only two known IAF Goans to earn a Maha Vir Chakra.
*Emanuel Raymond Fernandes, AVSM. He was amongst the best-regarded and
loved Goan fighter pilots, with high qualities of competence, helpfulness and charity.
"Fighter Fernandes" was adept at Spitfires, Vampires, Hunters, and the rather
difficult-to-navigate Gnats at 2 SQN. He wrote the virtual IAF bible on maneuvering
Gnats in dogfights. Read more about him another day. The youngest of his three
sons is a serving Brigadier in the Army. From Badem, Salvador do Mundo.
*Trevor Joseph Fernandes, Bar-to-VM in 1971 when with 26 SQN (Sukhoi-7,
Adampur) and VSM. Ref: Gazette of India : No.53-Pres/71 dt. 26 Jan 1971. During
the 1971 war on the western front, his aircraft was damaged in ack-ack fire. For the
singular courage flying it back safely, he was again decorated with the Bar-to-VM.
Brother of Cdr Stanley Fernandes and Col Herman Fernandes. From Siolim/Pilerne.
*Norbert Joseph Misquitta, VM for gallantry. On 12 Aug 1968, Sqn Ldr Misquitta was
in a malfunctioning Vampire that any pilot would have ejected from. A fighter pilot that
he was, he held his wits and landed it safely at base. Not the end of the story. In
1969, as a Vampires flying Instructor, he was on a flight with a co-pilot trainee when
the aircraft developed trouble. He told the co-pilot to eject and went on to land the
aircraft safely. He also few MiG-21s. Son is Wg Cdr Neville F Misquitta. Settled in
Pune. From Candolim.
*Ashley Malcolm Rodrigues. A MiG-23 fighter pilot, he was injured in the 1971 ops,
and to date carries the anti-aircraft bullet in his left leg. Let's save that story of
courage and other interesting elements for another day. Originally from Carambolim,
his family settled in Velcao after the then capital city (Old Goa) was hit by the plague.
*Leyland Fernandes. From Aldona.
*Peter D'Souza. A transport SQN pilot (and, like most defence officers, a helpful
human being!) From Mapusa.
*Christopher Fernandes. Retired and settled in Pune. Presently flies aircraft for the
Aditya Birla group. From Curca, Tiswadi.
*Conrad Anthony Dalton, VSM. (Many Goans in British India tweaked their Luso
surnames to blend better in the Anglo-India ethos.) Was a Bomber Navigator on
Canberras. Also commanded the Sambra-Belgaum airbase. Gr Capt Dalton is adept
at the violin, saxophone, clarinet and synthesizer. Married to daughter of the famous
St. Estevam artist, Angelo da Fonseca, pioneer of Indian Christian Art. Lives in Pune.
From Siolim.*Sunil Jayant Nanodkar, VSM. ("As Director of Ops-Tactical from 2003, Gp Capt
Nanodkar trained operational status of all offensive fleets in IAF. He led a IAF team
with six Jaguars, two IL-78 Flight Refuellers and two IL-76 heavy lift aircraft to a
multinational exercise in Alaska, USA. Successfully executing it, he put a template in
place for the IAF to follow in such future endeavour.") From Nanora.
*Colville de Souza. VSM in 1996.
*Godfrey Salins (retired as Air Cmde?)
*Henry Rebello. Was also an Olympic triple-jumper.
*Kevin Braganza, pilot. From Mapusa.
*PV Karapurkar. VSM in 1996.
*Frank Aloysius Rodrigues. Com. 05 Oct 1944.
*Anthony Frank Gama, VSM. ("Sqn Ldr Gama commanded a transport SQN. In
about a year and a half, between Sep-1959 to Jul-1962, he carried out more than
1000 hours of flying on air transport ops over NEFA and NHTA.") With exceptional
flying skills, he later commanded the elite Comm Sqn that flies VVIPs.
*Ulrich Anthony D'Cruz, KC. Was shot down over Akhnur-Bhimbar in the J&K ops
and captured by Pathan tribesmen. Let's save his heroic story for another day. He
died in 1999.
*Paul Louzado, VSM. Retired 31 Dec 1976. Wg Cdr Louzado's wife, Lorna Almeida,
is from Raia. He hails from Aldona.
*Alban Anthony D'Rozario, VSM when Sqn Ldr in 1973. Wg Cdr Rosario was also an
*Raul Silva Rodrigues. Com 14 Jan 1956. Was a General Duty Pilot.
*Cecil Barreto, VSM in 1976. One of the five sons of a Raia-born dentist settled in
Nagpur, all of whom joined India's defence services. (More on them another day.)
From Ganapoga-Raia.*David Joseph de Figueiredo, M-in-D in 1972, SC when Sqn Ldr. In the 1971 ops, he
was tasked with bombing and strafing deep inside enemy territory, and saw some of
the severest fighting on all the three fronts. Flying over Behrampur in Fazilkha sector,
his Hunter was severely damaged in ack-ack fire. Under MiG escort, he managed to
return and land the aircraft back at base. In the mid-1970s, on a Republic Day flypast
rehearsal over Delhi, the left aileron of his Hunter malfunctioned. Instead of ejecting,
he landed his aircraft safely. For this act of gallantry, Wg Cdr Figueiredo earned the
Shaurya Chakra (Medal for Valour.) He pioneered Micro Light Flying in India. Lives in
Mumbai and does his hobby flying-training in Gujarat. From Neura.
*John V de Silva, a helipilot, now settled in Australia. He is brother of the wife of Air
Cmde Peter K Pinto (the genteel face of the Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry.)
From Duler-Mapusa.*Desmond ("Dinky") Fialho. Transport pilot. Father of serving Sqn Ldr Rajnish Fialho.
Amongst the men Goa can count to promote local awareness on defence careers.
From Baga-Calangute.*Sunith Francis Soares. Before the 1971 war actually began, three Dacca-based
Pakistani Sabres attacked an advance Indian Army position near the border at Boyra
in 24 Parganas on 22 Nov 1971. Four IAF Gnats were scrambled to intercept them,
with Flt Lt Roy Massey, Flt Lt MA Ganapathy, Flt Lt Don Lazarus and Fg Offr Sunith
Soares in the cockpits. Fg Offr Soares was the first to spot the Sabres. In the ensuing
combat, all three mighty Sabres were shot down. All four Gnats triumphantly returned
to base. A David v/s Goliath story. (Read about it elsewhere in this edition.) Wg Cdr
Soares later flew MiGs. From Torda, Salvador do Mundo.
*Oscelyn Faria (com.1965.) General Duty Pilot.
*Ivor Mario Simoes, VSM. Helipilot. Lives in Mumbai.
*JG Fernandes, VSM.
*Michael Fernandez, VSM.
*Eslin Paul D'Couto, VSM.
*Neville F Misquitta. Son of Gr Capt Norbert J Misquitta. From Candolim.
*Bolivar Dias, Met officer, serving. Lives in Margao. From Chinchinim.
*Ajay John Rebello, serving. From Chandor.
*Antonio Dias, Admin branch, retired and settled in Bangalore.
*Christopher Paul (Logistics), serving.
*Giles Gomes. Retired and settled in Goa.
*R Paul. Retd and settled in Pune. Father of Wg Cdr Christopher Paul.
*Raul Rodrigues, retired and settled in Delhi. From Cavelossim.
*Stanley J Nazareth, Logistics. Settled in Nagpur. From Panjim.
*George Menezes, com. Pilot Officer in Dec-1951, was Asst Air Attach? (1959-62) in
the Indian Embassy in Paris. Retired early, joined the corporate world . and turned
out to be one of the top humour writers in India. Son of the legendary Prof. Armando
Menezes, HoD-English Literature, Dharwar University. From Divar.
*Shreekant Harishchandra Pednekar, VSM.
*Henry Vivian D'Costa, M-in-D. Brother of Gr Capt Allan Albert D'Costa. From
*RA Prabhu was with 6 SQN, Canberras. Participated in Kutch Ops, 1965 and 1971
wars. From Bicholim town.
*Sunil Ramnath Laud, VSM.
*JV Rodrigues. AEM branch.
*Francis da Cunha, a fighter pilot who peers describe as an "electronics genius,"
which was his hobby. Mother hailed from Benaulim, father from Daman. Born and
bred (and now lives) in Bangalore.
*Sunil Charles D'Souza, M-in-D when with Unit 2307.
*Rajnish D Fialho, serving. Son of Wg Cdr "Dinky" Fialho. From Baga-Calangute.
*Ascension Almeida, joined Air India on retirement.
*Avertano P. Fernandes. Bomber Navigator. Was decorated. From Cansaulim.
*Edsel Rodrigues, joined Vayudhoot on retirement. Of Goan stock settled in
*Jovita A Pacheco, Met branch. From Majorda.
*Tereza Sequeira (IMS). From Saligao.
*Vijay A Rodrigues, quit early on account of then little promotional prospects and
settled in Australia. Brother of Gen SF Rodrigues. From Curtorim.
*NT Lobo, VSM when with 43 SQN. Later joined Air India. Settled in Pune.
*(?) Fernandes, is related to the wife of Air Marshal Tipnis. Settled in Pune.
*Pilot Offr Vishwanath Varik resigned soon to join Goa Police and retired as Dy SP.
Brother of Cdr Sharad V Varik, Masters in Naval Architecture. From Canacona.
There are/were other Goans in the IAF whose details I could not ascertain, like:
*Adolfo Condillac ("Condy"), a former St. Xavier's-Bombay student, initially Fg Offr
with 31 Sqn.
*Lawrence Menezes, was Sqn Ldr during the 1971 war, later joined Hindustan
Aeronautics Ltd. Settled in Delhi after retirement.
*(?) Mendania, a Bombay Goan.
*Merwyn Pinto. Father-in-law of Naval Cdr Kevin Pinto. Settled in Pune.
* * * * * * *
Due to lack of timely information, the name of Flt Lt Shrikant Mahajan was not
included in last Sunday's piece. On a bombing sortie over Sargoda airbase near
Lahore towards end of the 1971 war, his aircraft, co-piloted by Flt Lt Goswami,
disappeared. Both were presumed dead. His parents were from Khandola-Marcela,
settled in Belgaum.
Similarly, Fg Offr Zenon Aleixo Verissimo Fernandes was with 47 SQN at Halwara
when his aircraft crashed near Ludhiana, killing him on 10 Oct 1977. He was young,
unmarried, and hailed from Pilerne.
* * * * * * *
The number of Goans in the IAF alone - India's youngest and smallest of the three
services - demonstrates how a small place like Goa provided officer ranks to the
nation's armed forces far above her proportionate population.
(With help from retired IAF officers and their relatives, both Goan and not, and info
and photo courtesy of: www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF)
(The author can be contacted at: valmikif at gmail.com)
In Part-2 of Valmiki Faleiro's series on Defence officers of Goan origin, we carried a
photograph of late Sqn Ldr Francisco Xavier Menino da Silva in the HERALD
MIRROR of 18 April 2010, the date (as we later learnt) he was commissioned in IAF.
The photo caption inadvertently omitted his name. The error is regretted. -Editor
The above article appeared in the HERALD, Goa, edition of Apr 25, 2010
Here's a related report (a first-person war account)...
THE BOYRA STORY
Wg Cdr SUNITH FRANCIS SOARES (Retd.) tells the story of how, on 22 Nov 1971,
four aircraft of 22 SQN of the IAF shot down three Sabres of the PAF based at Dacca
in East Pakistan.
It was a few days before the 1971 war with Pakistan actually began. We were based
at Kalaikunda, near Kharagpur. For many months, we had maintained a detachment
at Calcutta for air defence duties. The ORP was makeshift, with sand bags to protect
the aircraft and tents for the crew.
The Indian army was geared for battle. In the Boyra sector, it moved adventurously
close to Pakistan territory setting up defensive positions in preparation for the coming
battle. This sort of aggressive posturing must have provoked the military authorities
at Dacca and they decided to use some airpower to displace our troops.
The first strike by the PAF Sabres was around 10 AM, no sooner the sun dispersed
the morning fog. Four Gnats were scrambled but arrived too late to pose a threat. A
second strike followed soon thereafter but once again, the Gnats could not make
contact and returned to base a trifle dejected. Wg Cdr BS Sikand, our CO, who had
led the first two sorties, then decided to take the afternoon off and handed over lead
to Flt Lt Roy Massey. I was slotted in as number 2. Flt Lt MA Ganapathy and Flt Lt
Don Lazarus retained their positions at 3 and 4.
As I settled into the makeshift ORP, I silently prayed for another strike. Don and I
were playing scrabble when the klaxon went off once again. One more formation had
been picked up on the radar heading towards Boyra. Our flight controller this time
was Fg Offr Bagchhi and the time was 1440 Hrs. We soon were hurtling through the
skies at low level with the throttles against the stop.
At this speed and height, the Gnat is not easy to fly as the noise level is atrociously
high and the aircraft bucks like a rodeo horse. It became difficult to hear Bagchhi and
after a slight reduction in speed and a modest gain in height, we reached the border
to be told that the enemy was at 2 o'clock 4 miles. Ganapathy and Don being on the
right flank and therefore closer to the target should have been able to spot the aircraft
but the afternoon haze made this difficult.
I then saw a glint of metal. Sharply focusing my vision, I saw one aircraft at about
three kms, perched as if to commence a dive. I called out contact and commenced a
crisp commentary on the flight path. Roy having spotted the aircraft, decided to pull
over the flank pair to manoeuver behind the aircraft. This positioned us at about 1.5
kms behind the Sabre. Someone by this time must have warned him about us, as he
went into a classic steep turn with the intention of shaking us off. With slats out and
full power, he executed a motherless turn.
The Gnat not only kept up with him degree for degree but gained some distance in.
After the incident, we found that we had clocked more than 9G during this turn. The
Sabre now came out of the turn to gain some speed and this allowed us to close in,
as the Gnat has a very good acceleration, and we were soon at firing range. Roy
fired a small burst that missed but followed quickly with another which hit the right
wing near the fuselage. I saw the wing catch fire, canopy fly off, and the start of the
ejection process before we overshot the flaming aircraft. Strike one Sabre.
While we were in combat, I heard Ganapathy call out that he had spotted a Sabre
and he manoeuvred behind the aircraft very quickly to fire his first burst. It missed the
target. In the meantime while this was happening the third Sabre cropped out of the
blue - literally - between Ganapathy and Don, at a distance of 200 yards or so.
With lightning-quick reflexes, Don swerved his aircraft and in a flash, fired his guns,
which struck the Sabre on the wing causing it to explode. The debris hit Don's aircraft
on the nose and drop tank. Yes, drop tank - in our enthusiasm, we had forgotten the
cardinal principle of combat - jettisoning the tanks. Strike two Sabres.
The pilot ejected. This pilot, a PoW, was released, to later become the Chief of the
Air Staff of the PAF. Meanwhile, Ganapathy fired a second burst that this time was
better directed and hit the Sabre on the right wing, setting it aflame. Strike three
During our combat that I estimate did not take more than 3 minutes, I saw small puffs
of incandescent lights. I later found to my dismay they were AA shells bursting all
around. The Indian Army AD regiment was having a field firing practice at our peril.
It's a good thing their gunnery was not as good as ours.
It was now Bagchhi's turn to take over and he assembled us for our return to base.
After our rendezvous, we came in a finger four formation for a run in, but because of
Don's damaged aircraft did not intend to do any dramatics, but Ganapathy would not
have any of it. After peeling off he came in for a victory roll to tell the world that we
had shot down three Sabres without any loss. (ENDS)