– By Lt Col Noel Ellis(Retd.)
I had one pip on my shoulder and was Liaison Officer (LO) for a General Officer visiting Jaisalmer on his maiden desert sector reconnaissance. It was end of April and the heat was lethal. General was scheduled to fly in early morning. He also had to go for re-fueling afterwards, then for his recce and later had to proceed to MES IB (Inspection Bungalow). A guest night in his honour had been organised at the officer’s mess that evening.
I went and met the Deputy Station Commander a day prior. I clearly remember that he was a 1971 war ‘Vir Chakra’ recipient, Ajax Sandhu. His name plate just read Ajax and he was justifiably huge and burly Khalsa. The air traffic control (ATC) people informed me that some air activity is taking place. Helipad was between the runway and taxiway. Helicopter was already in correspondence with the ATC. The ATC officer pointed out to me where it would land. I ran down, jumped into the Jonga and told the driver, ‘bana de hawai jahaz’ (turn the Jonga into a jet plane) and he did as I had decreed. We crossed the taxiway at full velocity and reached swiftly just before the helicopter touched down.
Ajax was there to receive the General. Chopper was re-fuelled quickly and they went out of sight again. Everyone saluted as the helicopter disappeared over Jaisalmer Fort. Station Commander turned around in a fit and almost held me by my collar. I was speechless to hear the choicest adjectives being hurled at me. He didn’t know that I was used to it. He almost gave orders to arrest me. I asked him, “Sir, what is my fault?” To this he replied, “Did you see an aircraft taxing in from your left, when you crossed the taxiway at full speed?” I replied with a no to this. There would have been one MiG less today he bellowed, had he not got on the RT (Radio Telephony) to tell the MiG to apply brakes. I looked clueless. Goof-ups did happen to me often. If I could have destroyed a MiG, the MiG could have destroyed a jonga too.