By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society
With each passing day, tensions are rife along the Indian borders and we have all our Armed Forces combat ready. Many soldiers have lost lives in battlegrounds and some have met their fate due to unfortunate mishaps. On a personal note, my association with MHS has not only brought me closer to the maritime domain from an academic and heritage point of view, but has also sensitised me in more capacities- one of them being an amplified awareness of the role and contribution of the defence forces that has further deepened my respect for every officer and soldier of all the military and paramilitary services.
Commander Nishant Singh lost his life in the line of duty in the MiG-29K crash that took place off Goa on 26 Nov 2020. He was given a funeral with full military honours at Goa on 11 Dec 2020. Even ten days later, it is difficult to pen a note in his memory despite not knowing him personally. It is in the sense of complete respect and honour of the departed soul that I write this small piece to thank him for serving his country and protecting every citizen of this nation.
Cdr Nishant Singh had joined Indian Navy following the footsteps of his father Cdr Yash Vir Singh (Retd). He had completed schooling from Navy Children Schools at Goa and Vishakhapatnam. An alumnus of Naval Academy, Mandovi, he was commissioned into the Executive branch of Indian Navy on 01 July 2008 and subsequently joined Naval Aviation. He became a qualified fighter pilot and earned the ‘Wings of Gold’ after advance strike training with the US Navy, in December 2011. He had flown Kiran, Hawk and MiG29K aircrafts. As a Qualified Flying Instructor, Cdr Nishant had always incorporated best practices in training. He had clocked about 1500 flying hours, comprising more than 400 hrs on MiG29K. He was also a qualified mountaineer and a skilled yachtsman.
It is said that a personal letter or a diary mirrors the true state of emotions and are an expression of true intentions of a person. His formal letter of permission to seek marriage approval addressed to his Senior official (Commanding Officer) was refreshingly personalised. It shares a glimpse of his world of how he was a dedicated Officer, a dutiful son and a lover who truly intended to live a happy life with his new bride. The letter has gone viral and shall always remind us of an Officer who wore his heart on his sleeve. Through the photographs, he comes across as a person known to be full of life and wit with an ardent love for flying planes and travelling the world.
Memories are all that are left now. And they shall live on. It must have been a heart wrenching wait for the family and friends who prayed for his safe arrival and hoped for a miracle to happen. I pray for them and may God give them immense strength and courage to face this unfortunate times.
I also would like to commend the Search and Rescue Team of the Indian Navy who continued their mission and brought back their regimental brother, not leaving him behind after his passing, displaying their sense of solidarity.
We have lost yet another brave-heart and nothing can compensate the void created. The demise of the officer is a huge loss to the Indian Navy and the Naval Aviation branch in particular who lost one of its finest Pilots. My heart bleeds for our brave men, the frontline warriors who gave their present for our future.
The thing is, we only celebrate our Faujis and Jawaans once they’ve lost their lives, but we need to celebrate them every day. Our prayers and tears cannot bring the departed soul back to his family and friends but the least that one can do (and I urge whole heartedly) is that each one of us should surely strive to become an honest citizen worth fighting for!
Cdr Nishant Singh, we hope you fly high in the heaven and ride the waves of glory! You will always be remembered as a dutiful officer and an accomplished aviator. We salute your fighting spirit and remember your effervescent smile along with the incredible wings of gold.