Arunachal Pradesh: Recalling the Samaritan Mandeep Singh Dhillon who rescued 160 people before embracing death!
July 9, 2017: The tragic death of 3 crew members who were on a rescue operation in Arunachal Pradesh has left the 115th Helicopter Unit at the IAF's airbase in Tezpur, Assam in a pal of gloomy despair. Wing Commander Mandeep Singh Dhillon, was one of them who died in a helicopter crash in Arunachal Pradesh while rescuing people after a landslide last week, was, as fondly recalled by his colleagues and friends, an avid long-distance runner.
In a release issued by the 115th Helicopter Unit at the IAF's airbase in Tezpur, Assam, the gloom in the unit was thoroughly expressed in this manner: "We are deeply saddened by the demise of Wing Commander Mandeep Singh Dhillon, from the Indian Air Force in a tragic helicopter crash during a flood rescue operation in Arunachal Pradesh. He was commanding the 115 Helicopter Unit at Tezpur, and had over 18 years of flying experience in varied terrain, from icy mountains to the jungles of North East India".
With his death, India has lost a dare devil officer, a thorough gentleman and a very kind soul. Mandeep belonged to Patiala and came from a defence background. A role model to a generation of younger officers and to the cadets of NDA, where he was once posted as an instructor.
Wing Commander Mandeep Singh Dhillon was also a long distance runner who won almost every long distance race in which he ever participated. After completing his schooling from RIMC Dehradun, he was selected for NDA as an Air Force cadet. He never liked being away from the flying duties and pursued his flying passion with sincerity. On July 4, 2017, he had already made five sorties and had rescued 169 stranded people. Along with a flight engineer and a policeman from Arunachal Pradesh, Wing Commander Dhillon and Flight Lieutenant Singh flew to Sagalee in the Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. Despite the weather turning bad, they rescued 160 people in five sorties from Sagalee to Naharlagun.
On the sixth sortie to Sagalee village, the weather worsened so much that they decided not to risk civilians' lives and did not take people on board. Within minutes after taking off from the village, the ground station lost contact with them. All the three crew members of the IAF helicopter and the Arunachal Police official died in the crash. Dhillon is Survived by his wife, a young daughter and a son.