Brothers get gallantry awards
Two brothers from Chennai, both in their 40s, are among the winners of this year’s gallantry awards for saving distress-hit people’s lives at sea and in the mountains within a gap of three days of each other.
Commander K M Arun Kumar, a former skipper of Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Varuna, is a recipient of the Nao Sea Medal (Gallantry) for saving the crew of a sunken Maldivian ship off the Lakshadweep.
His brother, Wing Commander K M Raghuraman, has been selected for the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) for rescuing flood-hit people in Uttarakhand during Operation Rahat.
Arun Kumar was commissioned in the Navy in January 1994 and attended the Staff College in 2009, while Raghuraman joined the Indian Air Force in 1991 as an airman and went on to become an officer in 1996. Later, Raghuraman became a qualified flying instructor from the Flying Instructor School in Tambaram, and served in a UN peacekeeping mission in Congo.
On June 14, 2013, ICGS Varuna was on patrol duty 50 nautical miles south of Minicoy when it was informed about the SOS call given by the MV Asian Express.
The engines, power and communication systems of the merchant vessel with a Maldives flag had failed. As water was gushing into the ship through cracks, the captain of the Asian Express panicked.
Kumar and his men rescued all 22 crew on board the vessel, including four Indians, in an operation that lasted for few hours. “By 7 pm, all of them were safe, but the ship ultimately sank,” the Navy officer, currently associated with the Maritime Warfare Centre in Kochi, told Deccan Herald.
Three days later, his brother Raghuraman, who flies the advanced light-weight helicopter Dhruv, was tasked to position three helicopters at Dehradun to undertake relief operations as a part of Operation Rahat, the massive relief and rescue operation launched by the armed forces in the wake of the devastating floods in Uttarakhand.
Raghuraman, who has been performing the duties of a flying commander since August 2011, and his team flew vigorously in the flood-hit areas, averaging 15 sorties a day, and rescued 490 stranded pilgrims and locals, besides dropping over 50 tons of relief material in the Kedarnath Valley.
They completed the arduous task without an accident or any untoward incident, which is indicative of his meticulous planning and exceptional courage, said an IAF spokesperson.
Anil and Raghu are the eldest of four brothers. Their father, a former accounts officer at Chennai Port Trust, wished four different government jobs for his sons. But only the elders joined the services. The younger brothers preferred the corporate world.