Cdr Menon of Indian Navy’s ‘322 Advanced Light Helicopter Flight’ squadron at INS Hansa, Goa Khabar journalist, NIBEDITA SEN writes about his experiences of the three consecutive rescue operations.
“I feel really honoured by the award and at the same time much humbled. That my crew and I could make a difference to the lives of few people, is the greatest satisfaction for us. Nausena medal is not just a recognition, but also a symbol as a soldier”,” Cdr Dhanush said.
38 years old braveheart, had been leading the mission from front. He was a part of
search and rescue operations of Cyclone Ockhi in Kerala 2017, Kerala floods 2018 and Karnataka floods of 2019.
- Recounting his experience during cyclone Ockhi of 2017, he said: “I could not sleep for next three days. It was the first time I saw human misery in front of my eyes. Based at the Naval Air Station at Kochi, we set out straight over the high seas off Trivandrum. There were boats strewn all around and we could see fishermen clinging onto whatever they could find that would float to save themselves,” Cdr Menon told Goa Khabar.
The 17 lives we saved during cyclone Ockhi off Trivandrum (Dec 2017) , was more challenging and satisfying than Op Varsha Rahat (Karnataka floods 2019) and Op Madad (Kerala floods 2018). (The officer had saved 93 lives in Karnataka floods and 71 in Kerala floods). The conditions were very demanding with heavy rains and high waves throwing sea spray even inside the cockpit.
Acknowledging the stellar performance of ALH as a success story of Make in India policy he mentioned, “In a short span of time this aircraft has proven to be a force multiplier in avenues of Search and rescue (SAR) and casualty evacuation.”
“My squadron back at Kochi was awarded Unit citation last year. And also HAL safety award for Op Madad at Kerala,” he said.
Having saved 93 people during Karnataka floods recently, piloting indigenously built ALH Dhruv, Cdr Menon is probably the only person to have rescued lives of people in three major natural disasters in recent past.
Carrying forth the invaluable experience that he had from operating during Kerala floods; he was able to give precise and critical inputs to rescue coordination centres. This included how the stranded survivors could attract attention of helicopter, the fluidity of operating areas, immediate requirements and subsequent logistics support.
- “In retrospective, as an individual I have learnt to value life more than I used to do earlier. I have discovered that nature is a great leveller. I have seen hutments and mansions marooned in water and poor and rich both fighting for survival. As a professional, I have gained in field experience. I was better prepared for Karnataka rescue mission than before. This time also I learnt some valuable lessons, which would be useful in future,” the ALH pilot said.