Hello, Warriors! On This Very Day, Our Bravest Of The Brave Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey PVC (P) was born on 25th June 1975 in Rudha village, in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh.
1. He was an officer in the elite Gorkha Regiment of the Indian Army. At a time when everyone starts preparing for their career, young officers like Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey chose to do their bit for the motherland.
2. Prior to his selection, during his Services Selection Board (SSB) interview, the interviewer asked him, “Why do you want to join the Army?” He immediately replied, “I want to win the Param Vir Chakra.” True to his words, Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey did win the country’s highest gallantry honour but posthumously.
3. As Colonel Lalit Rai, Commanding Officer of 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, was narrating the gallantry act of Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey during the Kargil war to the young cadets of the National Defence Academy (NDA) earlier in 2004, a portrait of Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey, who was posthumously decorated with the Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award, was unveiled by his parents in the Mike Squadron of the academy. Just imagine how proud it feels!
4. Manoj, an alumni of the 90th course of the NDA, was commissioned into the 1/11 Gorkha Rifles in June 1997. In Operation Vijay, Capt. Manoj (then lieutenant) was the platoon commander during the advance to Khalubar in the Batalik sector.
5. After commissioning, his first assignment was in the Kashmir valley and thereafter he was posted to Siachen. Whilst in Siachen he received orders to move to Batalik sector, where the first intrusions by the Pakistani forces were detected and the Army was preparing for a well-coordinated retaliatory action.
6. The hall in the Squadron was filled with emotion as Rai, a Vir Chakra awardee, recounted the epic battle of Kargil and Capt. Manoj’s will to fight and indomitable spirit in capturing the Khalubar Hills on the night of July 2-3, 1999. “Even in their death, there was glory, because their rifles were pointing towards the enemy bunkers, which were empty by then and the frozen fingers squeezing the triggers. Capt. Manoj Pandey was one among those brave men,” he recalled.
7. He led his men to recapture the Jubar Top, a feature of great operational importance. But his finest hour was in the capture of Khalubar in the early morning hours of July 3, 1999. The battalion’s progress on to its final objective was halted by a determined enemy firmly entrenched on commanding heights. Pandey stepped forward to take on the mission. Displaying great courage, he surged ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy with a full throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.
8. Although wounded in the shoulder and leg, he pressed on his solitary charge with grim determination, till he captured from bunker to bunker. Unmindful of his grievous wounds, he rushed from bunker to bunker, urging his men on. Critically bleeding, he collapsed at the final bunker and finally succumbed to his injuries, but not before the last of the enemy had been annihilated. His last words were, ‘Na Chodnu’ (Don’t leave them).
9. Pandey is one of the 21 individuals who have been decorated with India’s highest military honour. As a PVC awardee, his statue is at the Param Yodha Sthal at the National War Memorial. After his death, multiple places have been named after him including his almae matres.
10. The citation awarded to Capt Manoj Pandey read: (LIEUTENANT MANOJ KUMAR PANDEY)
Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey took part in a series of boldly led attacks during ‘operation Vijay ‘, forcing back the intruders with heavy losses in Battlik including the capture of Jaubar Top. On the night of 2/3 July 1999 during the advance to Khalubar as his platoon approached its final objective, it came under heavy and intense enemy fire from the surrounding heights. Lieutenant Pandey was tasked to clear the interfering enemy positions to prevent his battalion from getting day lighted, being in a vulnerable position. He quickly moved his platoon to an advantageous position under intense enemy fire, sent one section to clear the enemy positions from the right and himself proceeded to clear the enemy positions from the left. Fearlessly assaulting the first enemy position, he killed two enemy personnel and destroyed the second position by killing two more. He was injured on the shoulder and legs while clearing the third position. Undaunted and without caring for his grievous injuries, he continued to lead the assault on the fourth position urging his men and destroyed the same with a grenade, even as he got a fatal burst on his forehead. This singular daredevil act of Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey provided the critical firm base for the companies, which finally led to capture of Khalubar. The officer, however, succumbed to his injuries.
Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, thus, displayed most conspicuous bravery, indomitable courage, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.