1. Captain Anuj Nayyar
Captain Anuj Nayyar, of 17 Jat Regiment of the Indian Army, headed his group to capture a key mountain top called Pimple II that was possessed by Pakistani infiltrators in the Kargil War in 1999. Nayyar and his group fought on like warriors without any aeronautical backing. A rocket explosive specifically hit him, yet he carried on till his last breath to secure the strategic mountain peak. A bit of trivia: Saif Ali Khan played Captain Nayyar’s role in J. P. Dutta’s movie LOC Kargil.
2. Colonel Neelakantan Jayachandran Nair
Colonel Neelakantan Jayachandran Nair of 16 Maratha Light Infantry was deployed in Nagaland in 1993. On December 20 of the same year, his convoy was ambushed by Naga rebels. Col N. J. Nair displayed exemplary valour and took on the rebels on his own in order to break the ambush. He sacrificed his life to save his men. For his outstanding courage, the Colonel has been awarded the Ashoka Chakra and Kirti Chakra, the only Indian to have won both the prestigious awards.
3.Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri
J.P Dutta’s famous war film Border was based on the Battle of Laungewala on the fateful night of December 4-5, 1971. On that night, Brigadier Chandpuri headed a team of 124 soldiers of the Indian Army and 23 officers of the Punjab regiment against a Pakistani ambush and held them off. He was later honoured with the Mahavir Chakra by the Indian government for his administration and valour. The Brigadier’s character was played by Sunny Deol in Border.
4.Gurbachan Singh Salaria
After Belgium left Congo, the UN interceded to stop a bloody civil war raging through the African nation. Chief Gurbachan Singh Salaria was a part of the UN’s group to spare the nation from Katangese rebels who were wrecking destruction, and participated in an operation that left the foe totally dampened. Salaria died at the young age of 26 in an unknown land. However, his actions were recognized by the Indian government, and Chief Salaria was honored with the Param Vir Chakra, India’s most astounding wartime military honor, for his grit in the Congo War in 1961.
5. Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat
The story of Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat is stunning, and the man himself is a legend in the Indian Army. He was a part of the fourth Battalion of the Garhwal Rifles in the Indo-China War of 1962. Due to heavy casualty and circumstances, the company was asked to retreat from their position. Jaswant, however, insisted on staying back and fighting off the Chinese. All the other soldiers retreated and Jaswant was left alone to deal with enemy. What he did then was truly brave. He got some help from two Monpa tribal girls named Sela and Nura. Together, they set up weapons at separate points and maintained a volume of fire that fooled the Chinese into believing that they were faced with a huge battalion. The Chinese were left frustrated and this went on for 3 days. Finally the Chinese managed to capture the man who was supplying rations to Jaswant. On learning that he would be captured soon, Jaswant shot himself in the head. The Chinese were so furious to find that they had been fighting a lone soldier all this while that they cut off his head and carried it back to China. The fate of the brave girls who helped him is unknown. What a hero!
6. Captain Vikram Batra
Captain Vikram Batra, another champion of India’s 1999 Kargil War, was instrumental in recovering Peak 5140 situated at a height of 17,000 feet from the enemy. Batra knew the vital criticalness of the crest and completed a challenging mission in power to recover the peak. An enemy counterattack cut short his life but not before he had recaptured Peak 5140 with his last words – Jai Mata Di. Here’s a bit of trivia: Abhishek Bachchan played Batra’s part in the film LOC Kargil.
7. Arun Kumar Vaidya
This Maha Vir Chakra awardee was part of the action during the 1965 war with Pakistan at the Battle of Chawinda where the first Armored Division of the enemy was destroyed. In 1971, Arunkumar Vaidya navigated a dangerous landscape loaded with mines and pushed ahead to refute the Pakistani counter-assault in the the battles of Chakra and Dahira. In the same clash, in the Battle of Barapind, he appropriated tanks crosswise over minefields and got his second Maha Vir Chakra. In 1984, he planned Operation Blue Star, which sought to evict Sikh militants hidden inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
8. Nand Singh
During World War 2, Nand Singh led his troops up a steep ridge in Burma and captured major trenches despite carrying multiple injuries. In 1947, upon Independence, he took part in India’s first war with Pakistan. In the same year, he got severely injured in Uri, after which his body was paraded in Pakistan and thrown into a dump. Sadly, his body was never recovered. Nand Singh has the distinction of receiving the British Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
9. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan
“Do not come up, I will handle them.” These were probably the last words spoken by Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan to his men as he was hit by bullets while engaging terrorists inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during the Black Tornado operation in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Unnikrishnan was a Major in the Indian Army serving in the elite National Security Guards (NSG). During the operation, when a commando got injured, Major Unnikrishnan arranged for his evacuation and started chasing the terrorists himself. It was during this chase that he got seriously injured and succumbed to his injuries.
10. Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla
Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla, the captain of the INS Khukri, died after his ship was hit by torpedoes fired from the enemy submarine during the 1971 war. Mulla gave away his own life-saving jacket to a sailor and tried to save as many lives as he could before he went down with his ship. If you ever end up travelling to Diu, you’ll find a memorial in Mulla’s name along with a full-case model of INS Khukri.