Arjan Singh, Marshal of Indian Air Force, passes away

NEW DELHI: Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and India’s oldest, five-star ranked air force officer, died at 7.47pm on Saturday after suffering a heart attack. He was 98.

He proved his valour during the Second World War, when he faced the Japanese Army while serving as a pilot officer in the British-Indian forces in Burma (now Myanmar). He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for “fearless and exceptional” service in 1944.

Singh served as the IAF’s Chief of Staff during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. When Pakistan launched its Operation Grand Slam, in which an armoured thrust targeted the vital town of Akhnur, he was summoned to the defence minister’s office with a request for air support.

 With characteristic nonchalance, he replied, “In an hour.” And true to his word, the air force struck the Pakistani offensive in an hour. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his leadership of the IAF and his service to the nation during the historic war.
After his retirement from the Indian Air Force in 1969, Singh served the nation as an ambassador to Switzerland in 1971, and as High Commissioner to Kenya in 1974. Later, he also became the Lt Governor of Delhi, in 1989.
He was promoted to the five-star rank in 2002.
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