India was today shocked with one of the most tragic news – Marshal Arjan Singh, the oldest serving officer of Indian Air Force passed away today. He was admitted into the RR Hospital today morning after suffering from major cardiac arrest. The Prime Minister and Defense Minister were quick to reach the hospital to pay respects to the veteran.
Marshal Arjan Singh was an example of exemplary service, devotion, and motivation. Today, we share a few lesser known facts about this legend, who was a officer for the public, but a father for the Indian Air Force.
6. He was the only Indian Air Force office with a five star rank
Marshal Arjan Singh was the only office in the Indian Air Force who was promoted to a five star rank in its history. He was the only living five star office in India till today evening, after Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw passed away in 2008. He was promoted in 2002 to this rank.
5. He was born in Pakistan and served in the British India forces earlier
Born on 15 Apr 1919 in Lyallpur, Punjab (now Faisalabad, Pakistan), Arjan Singh was born into a distinguished military family. His father who was a Lance Daffadar in the Hodson’s Horse at the time of Arjan’s birth, retired as a full Risaldar of the Cavalry.
Arjan Singh was studied at RAF College Cranwell in 1938 and was commissioned in December 1939 as a pilot officer. Marshal Singh’s portrait can now be found on the walls of this College’s west staircase.
4. The first Indian to receive the DFC
Marshal Arjan Singh was the first Indian to ever receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) award. This is equivalent to a Mahaveer Chakra received by the Army. In fact, Arjan Singh did not forget his team, and recommended 6 of his team members for the award, and all of them too received the DFC! He received the DFC for his commendable work in the 1944 war.
3. The youngest Chief of Air Force
Arjan Singh was appointed the Chief of Air Force Staff at the age of 44. He was then the youngest to have ever become the Chief of Staff. Unlike several predecessors and successors who stay at the post for two and half to three years, Arjan Singh was the Chief of Staff for 5 years and later retired at the age of 50.
2. Other roles after retirement
After his retirement from active duty, Marshal Singh went on to hold several distinguished posts such as the Indian Ambassador to Switzerland, the Ambassador to the Vatican, the High Commissioner to Kenya. He was also a member of the National Commission for Minorities from 1975-1981. Later he served as the Lt. Governor of Delhi for a year from December 1989 to December 1990.
1. He still served
Although his health did not permit him, Marshal Singh did his best to continue to serve the Air Force. He attended several graduation functions of the Air Force Colleges and made sure he addressed the young officers. As per several people who heard him speak, he was a “never ending flow of motivation” to the Indian Air Force.
We leave you all with this memorable image of Marshal Arjan Singh.
He was 96, and almost immobile when this photo was taken in 2015. He found it extremely difficult, but stood to lay a wreath and give one final salute to Late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. This image will remain in the memory of Indians for centuries to come!