Siachen hero lance naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who passed away on Thursday after fighting death for nine days, was recognised in his battalion for his fine soldierly qualities, never-say-die attitude and ability to think through tough situations, army officials said.
It was perhaps a combination of these traits -- and a dash of luck -- that helped him survive six days under 35 feet of snow in the icy heights of 20,500 feet, before Army teams carried out a dramatic rescue mission on February 8.
Born on June 1, 1982, Koppad grew up at Betadur village in Karnataka’s Dharwar district chasing dreams of becoming a soldier. That dream came true when he joined the Madras Regiment at the age of 20. He soon found himself deployed in Jammu and Kashmir where he took part in counter-terror operations, followed by stints in the Northeast and again in J&K.
Koppad spent 13 years and three months in the Army before an avalanche in the Himalayas cut short his military career. Deployed on the glacier since last October, the 33-year-soldier served in hard areas for nearly eight years.
Army officials said the soldier was physically tough and mentally robust, traits that may have helped survive a six-day ordeal under snow -- nine of his fellow-soldiers were killed in the avalanche.
Known to be a sincere and hard-working soldier, Koppad took immense pride in being a part of 19 Madras, the battalion was his identity. The soldier’s never-say-die attitude and his compelling tale of courage against all odds on the world’s most unforgiving battleground have left an indelible imprint on the nation’s collective consciousness.
His death has also focused the country’s attention on how soldiers fight a daily battle for survival at towering heights on the glacier. He leaves behind a wife and a two-year-old daughter. And a grateful nation.