As the nation gears up for 16th anniversary of the Kargil War, Brigadier Kushal Thakur (retd), then commanding officer (CO) of the 18 Grenadiers and recipient of Youth Sewa Medal, recounted the valour shown by the soldiers while recapturing the Tiger Hill, also called Point 4660 from Pakistan forces.
It was the exceptional grit and courage of 18 Grenadiers that pushed back the enemy from the highest peak in the Drass sector and unfurled the tricolour on the mountain top on July 4.
The victory had indeed changed the course of the Kargil war, leading India to victory on July 26, 1999.
"During the Kargil War, 18 Grenadiers was assigned the task of recapturing two prominent peaks of Tololing and Tiger Hill in the Dras sector," said Thakur, adding, "We had already capture Tololing on June 13-14, but the Tiger Hill was a tough task."
The Tiger Hill was a formidable and majestic mountainous feature at a height of 17,500 feet with dominating observation that interfered with moment of troops and logistics taking place on the Srinagar-Leh Highway, he added.
The strategy employed was a three-pronged attack with a hook to snap the enemy supply lines and use battalion commandos, Ghataks, under Lieutenant Balwan Singh from rear of the hill, thereby using most difficult and unsuspected approach to gain the element of surprise.
While heavy shelling Indian artillery shook the enemy's defensive position, the 'Ghataks' led by Lieutenant Balwan and Havildar Yogender Singh Yadav attacked from the rear.
"The most difficult ever employed on an open battlefield worked and we captured the Tiger Hill on early morning of July 4," said Thakur.
In hand to hand battle, the Indian solider inflicted heavy casualties to the enemy. Nine Indian solider were martyred in the battle and 20 injured. Havildar Yogender Yadav was awarded the nation's highest gallantry award, Param Veer Chakra, and Lieutenant Balwan Singh was awarded Maha Veer Chakra.
The 18 Grenadiers earned a total of 52 gallantry awards in the Kargil War, a record of maximum gallantry awards won by one unit in single military operation.
Besides, the unit was awarded Theatre Honour Kargil, Battle Honour (Tiger Hill and Tololing) by the President and Unit Citation by the then Army chief General Ved Malik.
Every year, July 26 is observed as 'Vijay Divas' to commemorate the Kargil Victory in Drass.