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A tribute to Christian officers of PAF


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RECENTLY there was a memorial service for Group Capt Cecil Choudry. In his passing away the country lost a loyal son, the PAF a brave fighter pilot and the community a tireless advocate of rights.

As tributes were paid to this brave son of Pakistan, I remembered the great contributions of many other Christian officers who brought honours to the Pakistan Air Force. It was a privilege to be associated with many of them.

In those bygone days of the early 1960s, many of them were our instructors, commanders and mentors and taught us the rudiments of fighter flying. I cherish and honour their memory and so does the PAF.

We salute and honour them for their dedication to duty. Professionalism and the ultimate sacrifices, which some of them rendered, in the line of duty, defending their country.

At partition time in 1947, Air Vice Marshal Joseph, then only a junior officer, brought formation of aircraft, flying in dangerous skies at the time. Air Vice Marshal Eric Hall and Air Vice Marshal O’Brian rose to the position of Vice Chief of Air Staff. Air Commodore Torowic’s engineering expertise and efforts ensured the availability of maximum number of fighter aircraft for war-time missions in 1965. Air Commodore Nazir Latif commanded the biggest fighter base of the PAF.

The late Sqn Ldr Peter Christy and Wg Cdr W.D. Harney, both bomber navigators, distinguished themselves in many dangerous wartime missions. The late Wg Cdr Middlcoat, a fearless fighter pilot, was my squadron commander just before the 1971 war, sacrificed himself fighting over enemy territory. Earlier, he was one of the first to be selected for the F104 programme.

The tenacious Group Capt Cecil Choudry, a thorough professional, distinguished himself many a time in both the 1965 and 1971 wars.

Once during the 1971 war he was shot down by ground fire in the battle area, but ejected safely, landed in a minefield, was rescued and was up again the next day fighting the enemy.

There were others like Air Commodore Callahan, Wg Cdr Anthony Choudry, Wg Cdr Rollo, Wg Cdr Fraser, Banakh and Mukulski, all dedicated men. They and many others fought bravely. They gave no quarter to the enemy and asked for none. The PAF remembers them all. Many roads, parks, buildings and monuments in cantonments/airbases are named after them.

Later in my career I was fortunate to work with, instruct and command many non-Muslim officers and men whom I always admired for their dedication, professionalism, loyalty and spirit of sacrifice. The PAF is a many- splendoured thing. It does not make any distinction amongst its sons, based on colour or creed. It does not forget people, especially those who were part of its finest hours.

Their names would forever remain enshrined as shining stars in the PAF’s hall of fame.


Comments (15) Closed

Abid Habib Jul 30, 2012 07:22am
Thank you Malik Ayaz Twana fur such enouraging words for Non-Muslim Heros. Let us adopt the ways of PAF to appreciate all thier sons regardless of creed and culture.
G.a Jul 29, 2012 04:46am
It doesnt matter what their faiths were. They were Pakistanis first and also the Polish officers who took Pakistani citizenships and helped built the Pakistani air force.
Agha Ata Jul 29, 2012 12:56pm
There were some Ahamadi officers, too.
r.s.soni Jul 29, 2012 01:34pm
sir, please keep the flag of PAF high
j.Sequeira Jul 29, 2012 08:52pm
This article should be posted on the walls of every mosque in Pakistan so that the hate filled mullahs will realize who the true Pakistani really were
Asif A. Sayyed Jul 29, 2012 12:08pm
This article took me back to 1965 war when I had an appointment for FC College admission interview on the 10th of Sept 1965 for BA 1st year, on this day the fighting was at its heights around Lahore and during those days heard & saw AVM Cecil Choudry with other officers chasing and shooting down Indian fighter planes, then later on in July 1995 on a visit to Lahore with my boys went on to show them my old school 'St. Anthony's' where I was surprised to find AVM Cecil Choudry now as Principal of the school. May God Bless his soul and give sabre jameel to his family.' Ameen' PAF Zindabad.
anony Jul 29, 2012 07:59am
Feeling very proud to be a Pakistani after reading this article. Excellent work.
Malik Jul 29, 2012 11:27am
Thanks, wonderful article. Once I attended a wedding in California, and I was shocked a full blooded Chinese speaking fluent Punjabi in native accent. On inquiry, I found out that he was a retired PAF officer, now living in California of Chinese ancestory but was born in Pakistan. Kudos! we have some good examples.
Ajay Jul 29, 2012 11:27am
Wasted their lives for a country who does not value their " generals " forget the plight of a Soldier.
Ibrahim Jul 29, 2012 04:57am
What a wonderful tribute! Indeed Pakistan owes a lot to its minorities. The NED college, Lady Dufferin hospital, Holy family Hospital, the eye hospitals run by the Layton-Rehmatullah trust, the social work done by the Parsee mayors of pre-partition karachi, who had the innate humanity to build water troughs for animals, and where are we today, thirsting for each other's blood, destroying every thing that is decent and sacred. Let us pause for a moment, and reflect on our current situation. We need to remember, that we are all human beings first, and decent conduct has its own virtues.
@SecularPakista1 Jul 29, 2012 03:25pm
If we peel pff the cover of bigotry and religious intolerance, the citizens of Pakistan will always rise to serve their country regardless of their religious or ethnic background. The real enemies of the state are the reilgiouos ultra right wing groups who are busy sowing discord among groups. Divided, we fall is their goal. A secular Pakistan will create a more peaceful and stable country where all faiths including the Sunnis(majority) can live in peace alongside their Shia, Ahmadi, Christian and Hindu brothers. Let's keep the change coming. We are heading in the right direction. Someday, inshallah, Pakistan will have a a Christian or Hindu president who will be more loyal to this country than our current one.
ismail Jul 30, 2012 01:45am
I am also proud of my minorities,Islam treat every body equally and my Salam to every body.
Sumit Jul 30, 2012 01:52am
And the millions of Indian soldiers killed fighting wars for Hindu fundamentalist agenda are remembered how?
Abdullah Hussain Jul 30, 2012 01:57am
Pakistan is proud of its minorities and their heroism, loyalty, contributions to the cause of Pakistan and finally love for Pakistan. In Pakistan we do not differentiate between minorities & majority, all are equals.
ismail Jul 30, 2012 02:13am
I am proud of my minorities in all the fields they have contributed,Islam teaches to treat every body equally and I am gratefull to them.