– *By Pratyusha Mukherjee*
Wing Commander Vinod Kumar Neb, VrC & Bar, passed away this morning at Medanta Hospital, Gurugram in Northern part of India.
Commander Neb was a retired Officer and fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force and a hero of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 and 1971.
Vinod Nebb, a young fighter pilot during the 1965 war, shot down a Pakistani Sabre over Halwara on September 6, 1965 which earned him a Vir Chakra — the youngest recipient of the award till date.
Last year during Vijay Diwas he shared his experience about Indo-Pak war.
“4 Dec is a date of my life and is more so when the country celebrates its Victory over Pakistan and towards that I made a small contribution. This day my 17 Squadron from Hasimara launched its very first attack on Kurmitola. The formation of 4 Hunter ac was led by Squadron Leader Lele with Bains, his wing man and self as deputy leader with Bajwa as my wing man. As we were near our IP to run in for the attack I spotted three Sabre ac about 2 KM behind 2 Hunter ac heading north. I ordered a hard right turn, simultaneously they also turned into us. A full-fledged air combat developed. During the manoeuvres Bains was shot at but he skillfully flew back to the base with his damaged ac. We two remained engaged with three Sabres and I achieved a fairly advantageous position behind the Sabre pilot with a white helmet. Unfortunately at this point my engine fire warning light came on. As per emergency handling I had to throttle back to idling for 10 secs and wait for light to go off ,but 10 Seconds felt like 10 hours. I lost all the advantage on the Sabre ahead. I was left with two option that being get shot by an idiot or get blown in the cockpit, I chose the latter and opened full throttle to get back in the act. Being 340 KM from base had planned 3 minutes combat fuel , but it had taken much longer. Since fuel was becoming a challenge I had to disengage which was not easy. I decided to get headon with the ac in a starboard descending turn . He believing in my fake madness decided to break port then all I needed to do was a starboard wing over. There after it was a game of few seconds which I did utilised and shot him down. Now the fuel was short hence I decided to detour slightly starboard via Rupsi a second WW II airstrip. Approaching Rupsi checked traffic with Hasimara. He informed one ac with u/s ASI. I new it was Bains and sure of his skills , I set course for Hasimara. I landed with fuel gauge indicating zero fuel. In dispersal area as I turned in for a final stop my engine flamed out. That was a close call.”
I undertook over 26 mission . For my small contribution was awarded Bar to Vir Chakra . Wing Commander Vinod added.
Decorated with Shaurya Chakra for his Bravery and Leadership, Colonel (Retd) Saumitra Ray, himself fought 1965 and 71 Indo – Pak war.
“Sad and Shocking News .He was Chief Operation Officer (COO) at Suratgarh Air Station from 1982 to 84.I Commanded a RAJPUT Battalion there at that time .We had an Excellent Rapport.Condolences to his Family.”
(Author is a Sr.journalist, working for a Western media with 20 years of experience in covering the east and northeast, with specialisation in Defence and Sports.In her illustrated career she has covered many major events and achieved International and National media awards for Journalism).