Air Cmde VK Murthy has sent in some interesting snippets of events and photographs from those days at Uttarlai.
Visit of Mr Barkatullah Khan, Chief Minister of Rajasthan to the Base
Air Cmde Ramesh Phadke had asked in the previous post regarding the performance of the P-12 radar and how useful it was. I think performance of the Early Warning (EW) radars was a uniformly sore point at most bases. I recollect late Wg Cdr Saw Sawardekar’s comment on the EW radar at Sirsa “It can’t even catch a cold!” Murph Murthy’s views are equally to the point :
“Flt.Lt.Jyothi Punj (Sigs) Manning P-12 Radar ( only one Radar Van placed at one corner of Airfield which worked for 3 days !!!)
When everyone got FED UP with this Radar , How Punj got it alive when we most needed ! Only he can tell .”
Maj Jairam Sanadi, GLO, Sqn Ldr Pete Gaynor and Wg Cdr Murthy in the GLO's office
Coincidentally the GLO is our own Gp Capt Prakash Sanadi’s brother.
Air Cmde Murthy had mentioned earlier of how one of the JCO’s at Uttarlai had got the brain wave of clearing the Parallel Taxy Track of debris using a novel technique – his turban. There was a corollary to that :
“Sub Lab Singh was JCO, MES at Utterlai. While cleaning the taxy track, on the first Bombing , we ran out of Brooms & shovels. Mid-night passed , no progress made and we were HELPLESS. I saw SUB. Lab Singh kneeling down (saying Vayu Guru…Vayu Guru..) and then took out his Turban and twisted and holding one end and the other with another sikh and started cleaning the taxy track.
IT WORKED AND EVERYONE FOLLOWED THE EXAMPLE. we came to the end of taxy track by 5 am , just in time for the Mission 1 to Take Off as described by Bobby.
I did not wear my AVSM Ribbon till Lab Sing was awarded.
When I recommended for his award to 32 wing AF, WAC sent it to Army as he belonged to Army. Promptly Army forwarded it to MES organisation as he was with them. Lt. Gen Das, E-in-C, sent it to me to forward through Air Force. I was back to square one. When General Bewoor Army Cdr came to congratulate me , he asked why I am not wearing my AVSM . I told him the whole story and expressed Sub Lab Singh deserves more than me. I will put on when he gets some recognition
Within 48 hrs , Sub Lab Singh MES , got Mention in Despatches from MES, Honorary Commission from Army & Cash Award from Air Force. When Sub Lab Sigh came with a basket of Ladoos to thank me , I bowed to him and thanked him.”
Wg Cdr Murthy, a fully recovered Sqn Ldr Mickey Jatar, Mr Barkatullah Khan and Wg Cdr Aggy Agarwal at a celebratory party.