MAJOR SUDHIR KUMAR WALIA

Major Sudhir Walia1

REAL HEROES NEVER DIE…..THEY JUST RELOAD

A young boy , Sudhir Kumar from the hills of Himachal got selected in National Defense Academy and attached with the 3, Jat regiment after completion of the training.

Seventy thousand Indian troops were sent to Sri Lanka to enforce peace between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Lieutenant Sudhir Walia was one of them. India withdrew its troops in 1990 and lost 1,157 soldiers on that peacekeeping mission. Sudhir made a mark for himself with his skills in jungle warfare. On his return from Sri Lanka, he moved to the 9 Parachute Commando regiment, the Indian Army’s unit for unconventional warfare. 9 Para is one of the Indian Army’s four special forces and specializes in mountain operations. He served two six month stints on the Siachen Glacier — the highest and harshest of all battlefields at a height of 6,300 metres and excelled in high altitude warfare.

On 1997, he was selected from amongst the best of India’s commandos and sent for a specialised course to the United States. As a soldier, the farthest Rulia Ram had gone was standing watch over India’s international borders.But his son had travelled from his village to “The Pentagon — he went and spoke over there,” says his father swelling with pride. Many times, while Sudhir was away at the front or in America, Rulia Ram sat on his verandah and thought of the days he had walked 15 miles to get to work. His son had made it all worthwhile. Major Walia’s photograph at the Pentagon hangs among many other photographs of his on the walls of his home. ‘Colonel’ was the nickname given to him by his peers who had come from 80 other countries.

When the six-month course ended, Major Walia — the only Indian in the group — had topped it.

When the kargil war started, Sudhir had finished his tenure with the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and asked to besent back to his unit fighting the war. Not wanting to break the laid-down norms, or his spirit, the COAS let him go. The Army House given him an affectionate send off that he richly deserved. Within 10 days of his return, he had led the “A” team to capture Zulu top, over 5200 meters high in the Mashkoh sector, on 25th July, 1999. In this action, thirteen Pakistani soldiers belonging to the 19 frontier force were killed. (we returned their bodies after the Pakistanis raised a white flag). Our own casualties were five soldiers killed. As per paperes received by the Board of Officers in the Army HQ subsequently, Sudhir was recommended for a Vir Chakra.

A few days later, Rambo, as Maj Sudhir was called by his men met COAS during his(COAS) visit to the valley. His para commando team had reverted to anti terrorist operations in the Kashmir Valley during those days. The COAS asked him about his attack on Zulu Ridge without any acclimatization. He smiled and replied “ Sir, you know that I am a Pahari. I don’t need acclimatization.” With a smile, COAS said him not to break the laid down rules again.

On Sunday, August 29, 1999, a month after the Kargil war ended, Rambo went on a operation to demolish a terrorist hideout in the thick Haphruda jungle in Kupwara district.Major Walia had threaded through the forest the whole night, but the enemy remained elusive.In the morning as he went past a stream, he spotted toothpaste foam by the edge of the water. He knew the terrorists were within striking distance and stealthily caught up with them.

Sudhir who had already operated in this jungle earlier was tasked to search and destroy a terrorists’ hideout. He and his buddy, Naik Kheem Singh had spotted and surprised the terrorists deep in the jungle. In the ensuing fire fight, they had killed nine terrorists. It was a daring action, led all the way from the front. Rambo was hit when a bullet ripped through his stomach. But, he continued to lead his men till the end of the operation….fifteen years back, on this day the nation lost her Rambo in this fierce battle of Haphurda jungle. It was indeed a great loss for the armed forces as well as for the nation. Rambo was recommended for, and his father received Ashok Chakra on his behalf on the next republic day.

Desh pays her sincere tribute to her beloved Rambo on the day when he made supreme sacrifice while protecting his motherland…

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