Wing Commander Padmanabha Gautam VM, Indian Airforce

Wing Commander Padmanabha Gautam, MVC(Bar), VM

During the Indo-Pak conflict of 1965, Sqn Ldr Padmanabha "Bob" Gautam as commanding officer of a Bomber Conversion Unit, led it on a number of difficult and dangerous missions. He undertook six important offensive and tactical close-support operations over Pakistani territory during the period from 6th to 21st September.

In complete disregard of his personal safety in the face of heavy enemy ground fire and of the risk of attack by Pakistani Sabre jets, he carried out his missions successfully with courage and determination. These missions included reconnaissance deep into enemy territory and the bombing of Akwal and Gujarat airfields and enemy troop concentrations in the Gujarat and Chawinda areas.

Throughout the operations, Sqn Ldr Gautam displayed devotion to duty, professional skill and gallantry that were in the finest traditions of the Air Force. For this he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.

Bar to MVC

During the Indo-Pak war in December 1971, Wg Cdr Gautam was the Commanding Officer of a bomber squadron. He led many missions deep into enemy territory. Notable among these were two raids on the night of the 5th and 7th December 1971 when he led attacks on the Mianwali airfield. On both these occassions, he and his formation were met with intense anti-aircraft fire.

Despite that, the target was attacked with great precision, at low level, and heavy damage was inflicted. On the other missions, he carried out rocket and four gun attacks on railway marshalling yards in the Montgomery-Raiwind area with conspicuous success.

Throughout the operations, Wg Cdr Gautam displayed conspicuous gallantry, exemplary flying skill and leadership in the highest traditions of the Air Force.