Braveheart on land and in the air

  • Mandeep Singh Bajwa, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jun 08, 2014 10:05 IST

Colonel Gurjeet Singh Bajwa is a unique hero winning decorations for gallantry on land and in flying operations. Belonging to Uppali, Sangrur district, he was commissioned in 1970 into 168 Field Regiment.

In 1971 Pakistan’s 18 Division’s attempt to turn the tables on our 12 Division and capture Jaisalmer came a cropper because of some determined infantry resistance and the shooting skills of the IAF’s killer Hunter pilots. In the pursuit of the routed enemy 13 Kumaon supported by armour and artillery was ordered to clear them from a position known as BP (Boundary Pillar) 638. Gurjeet serving with another battery volunteered to go as a forward observer with 1681, the sub-unit providing direct support.

The daylight attack on December 9 came under heavy enemy fire. Gurjeet well up forward with the leading assault troops brought down devastating artillery fire on to the enemy position. Unmindful of the heavy enemy fire he continued on to the objective along with the leading company. The locality was carried by the valiant Rezang La Battalion. His courage and fortitude of a high order earned the gallant Bajwa the Vir Chakra.

Later Gurjeet became an army aviation pilot. Flying with 3 Army Observation Post (AOP) Flight in Kashmir on September 6, 1983, he was sent on a mission to rescue a female member of an Austrian mountaineering expedition with serious injuries on the Nun Kun massif. Landing his Cheetah in the midst of deep chasms with a surface covered with dangerously loose snow, he used his judgement and all his skills, remaining cool and calm and safely evacuated the casualty. His feat was recognised with the award of the Shaurya Chakra. Gurjeet rounded off his career with operational service in Sri Lanka and Siachen and now lies in active retirement near Chandigarh exhibiting the same vigour and vitality that won him two gallantry awards.


Patrolling is a basic military tactic aimed at dominating ground, establishing one’s presence, conducting reconnaissance, securing gaps between defences, gathering information or causing attrition to the enemy.
Larger formations or units detach smaller units or task forces which accomplish the assigned mission and then return. The length of a patrol may vary from a few hours to several weeks in the case of long-range ones. The duration depends on the nature of the operation that a patrol is tasked for and the size of unit involved in the job. A patrol may involve infantry on foot ranging in size from a few men to over a hundred, armoured, motorised or mechanised troops, warships or aircraft.

A fighting or combat patrol aims to raid, ambush or cause losses on an enemy position or unit. To such end it will have adequate strength (usually of platoon or even company size), weapons and equipment to achieve its objective. It is distinct from an attack in that its aim is not to capture or hold ground for any length of time.

The object of a security or clearing patrol is to secure a newly occupied locality, clear it of the enemy, his stay behind parties or snipers, mines or booby traps. They are also undertaken as a security precaution during the period when troops are changed over or at times when they are on stand-to at dawn or dusk.

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