New Delhi: A veteran of both the 1962 war with China and the 1965 war with Pakistan, Wing Commander Jag Mohan Nath, recipient of two Maha Vir Chakra gallantry awards, died in Mumbai Tuesday. He was said to be above 90.
A Squadron Leader at the time, Nath received his first Maha Vir Chakra for reconnaissance flights conducted in his Canberra aircraft over Tibet during the 1962 war. He received his second Maha Vir Chakra for valour shown during the 1965 war, joining a select list of military personnel who have been awarded with it.
The Maha Vir Chakra is the second highest military decoration in India, after the Param Vir Chakra, and is awarded for acts of gallantry. If someone receives a Maha Vir Chakra award twice, it is recorded by a Bar that is attached to the riband by which the chakra is suspended.
Born in Jaipur, he was fondly called “Jaggi” by his colleagues and friends. Wing Commander Nath was part of the 53 Pilot Course and was commissioned into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1950.
Following his death, Nath’s family said in a message, “Wing Commander JM Nath, MVC (Maha Vir Chakra) and Bar left us to be reunited with his eternal love Usha Nath on 21 March, 2023.”
During his service with the IAF, he was part of the No. 106 Strategic Recce Squadron, whose primary aim was to provide aerial photography and surveillance. Recce sorties conducted by Nath on board the Canberra, a British-made jet-powered fighter, were central to flights over hostile territories during both wars.
No. 106 Squadron was formed in May 1957 and flew the Canberra till May 2007. The squadron used the photo recce version of the Canberra.
Nath was also a contemporary of another Canberra pilot, Wing Commander Padmanabha Gautam, who was part of the 60 Pilot Course and a recipient of the Maha Vir Chakra and Bar to Maha Vir Chakra too.
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Flying over hostile territory
“Squadron Leader Jag Mohan Nath has fulfilled a number of hazardous operational tasks involving flying over difficult mountain terrain, both by day and by night, in adverse weather conditions and in complete disregard of his personal safety,” read his first citation after the 1962 war.
Following this, Nath was called by the IAF to serve during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. His recce missions included flights over Lahore and more such missions deep inside enemy territory.
His citation stated, “During the Indo-Pak War 1965, Sqn Ldr Nath was again the Flight Commander with the Strategic Photo Reconnaissance Squadron flying the Canberra aircraft. He led his unit several times over the hostile territory to obtain vital information about the enemy.”
Nath’s clandestine flights in 1965, as the citation added, were completely unescorted, making his surveillance of “well-defended” enemy airfields and installations during day and night even grander.
“Sqn Ldr Nath was fully aware of the risk he was running on each of these missions. Still, he chose to undertake the risky missions himself. The information gathered by him during his missions proved vitally important to Indian air effort. The missions enabled our Air Force to attack vital enemy targets and this adversely affected enemy’s war effort,” added his 1965 citation.
In his honour, Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd) described him as a “legend.” Nath had a total of 3,275 flying hours before he retired from service.
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