SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE PRESIDENT'S STANDARD PRESENTATION TO 24 SQN AND 111 HU
Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh , 6th March, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me immense pleasure to be here today at Air Force Station Bareilly to award Standards to 24 Squadron and 111 Helicopter Unit. The drill displayed by both the units this morning was exceptional. These two flying units have rendered exemplary service to the nation and inherit a rich tradition of selfless service and valour. Their proud air warriors, both past and present, have put in relentless efforts in pursuit of excellence, and have contributed significantly towards enhancing the stature of their units, as well as that of the Indian Air Force. For their selfless devotion, unparalleled professionalism and courage in the face of adversity, the nation honours them today, with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation.
India's march forward as a nation also draws its strength from the ever increasing capabilities of our Armed Forces. Though we remain firmly committed to peace, we will use all our might to protect the sovereignty of our nation, and I am confident that our valiant men and women in uniform will rise to the occasion. Our Armed Forces, exemplified by the air warriors who stand before us, reflect our steely resolve to defend our interests.
The Indian Air Force is the cutting edge of our nation's military might. The excellent performance of its personnel in multi-national exercises, both at home and abroad is, indeed, a glowing testimony to the level of training and preparedness of our Air Force. The Indian Air Force, besides safeguarding the sovereign skies of our nation, has also been at the forefront of all humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations. The resilience and tenacity displayed by our valiant air warriors is a great source of pride for the nation.
24 Squadron also known as the 'Hawks', is a premier fighter squadron of the Indian Air Force. The Squadron was formed on 16 February 1962 at Air Force Station Chabua, Assam, and has actively participated in all the three Wars since then. The Squadron created history in 1971, by being the very first Squadron of the Indian Air Force to provide air defence cover to Helicopter Operations in battle area and, thus, contributed significantly to the overall war effort. In 1997, the Squadron added another feather to its cap, by becoming the first squadron to induct the Sukoi-30 air dominance fighter, on which I myself have flown. The Squadron has proudly represented the nation in various international exercises and earned rich accolades. Its personnel have contributed selflessly and set high standards of professional excellence for others to emulate. The Squadron has truly lived up to its motto of "Navijitya Nivartanam" which translates to "No Return Without Conquest". I am very confident that the Squadron will continue to uphold its rich traditions and operate as a formidable fighting force in the years to come.
111 Helicopter Unit - the 'Snow Tigers' is one of the oldest helicopter units of the Indian Air Force which has an enviable operational record. The Unit has made notable contributions in the Western Sector during the 1965 War. It once again proved its mettle while operating from dispersed locations in the Eastern Sector during the 1971 operations, wherein the Unit carried out daring armed attacks, as well as flew extensive support missions. Besides operations, the Unit always has been a harbinger of hope in times of need. It has provided extensive support during flood relief and natural calamities, not only in our country, but also in neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. The proud air warriors of the Snow Tigers have carved a special niche for themselves, by carrying out a number of daring rescue operations, braving difficult weather and tough terrain of the icy Himalayas. The Unit has, thus, been truly living up to its motto of "Apatsu Mitram" - A Friend in Need. I am confident that with the re-equipping of the Unit with the modern ALH helicopters, it will continue to scale even greater heights in the years ahead.
In acknowledgement and recognition of their outstanding performance over the years, I award Standards to 24 Squadron and 111 Helicopter Unit. On this occasion I take the opportunity to acknowledge and compliment the personnel and families of 24 Squadron and 111 Helicopter Unit, both past and present, for their continued sacrifice and service to the nation. The nation is, indeed, proud of all of you. I wish you all the very best for a glorious future. I also convey my greetings for forthcoming Holi festival.