Thoughts that originate deep within

“Bring down the Fire on Me”: Circa 1999 Our Own Tales of Sheer Courage

Kargil War 1999

In the last week of March 2016, many of us were awestruck by the courage and patriotism of Russian Officer Lt Alexander Prokhorenko who when surrounded by ISIS and with no possible means of escape, in ISIS infested Palmyra in Syria, took the decision to call airstrike on his own location by calling in Russian warplanes to obliterate his location.32A3F4D100000578-3513911-Heroic_Alexander_Prokhorenko_left_with_his_wife_Ekaterina_was_su-a-23_1459263449436

This Special Forces soldier, was on a secret mission. He has since been hailed as a hero in his native Russia and even nick named the Russian Rambo. He is being awarded the highest bravery award of Russia “Hero of the Russia” by the President Vladmir Putin.

The whole world including Russia’s former adversaries are saluting this act of sheer bravery. Some former US & NATO veterans have openly saluted their enemy officer. Only a man in uniform knows how hard it is to take such a decision where one is willing to sacrifice oneself provided the enemy too is destroyed.

Well this incident has opened up memories yet again where the Heroes this time are not Russian and location is not any foreign land. It is located in our very own India where the Braveheart’s were none other than my course mates Chow and PeeKay and 80 odd officers and men of a fantastic Battalion.

Year 1999. Somewhere in the Drass Sector in Kargil. Peak of offensive against the Pakis in progress to dislodge them from each of the peaks they infiltrated. Time early morning 3 AM. Night of 02/03 July. A fierce attack on Tiger Hill is planned but it was important to divert enemy attention to another feature nearby. Hence this special Battalion is tasked to attack Point 5100- another feature nearby supported by Artillery in a diversionary attack while the main attack at Tiger Hill progresses.

80 brave well trained officers and men that included the Forward Observation Officers Maj Chow and Maj Peekay inched their way on a 75 degree incline, slippery ice, with just 1 meter width, all moving up in one line. As they neared their target, they suddenly realized that they were within 50 meters of a well-entrenched enemy who surrounded them quickly and fired at will and our boys immediately took casualties.

For over many hours they battled their way but were losing men faster than they could afford as Paki’s were sitting on vantage positions and were firing at will. To top it all, Paki’s brought down accurate observed artillery fire on our men, and the shells were causing more destruction. That is when these brave-hearts who were in the line of fire took the decision to bring down own Bofors Artillery fire on their own location.

Just 12 guns of Chow’s unit was in range about 24 kms behind. Chow radioed back to direct fire and gave his own location as reference. The Brigade Major who heard this panicked and announced that the Officer did not know how to read his Map. Chow insisted that they fire on the location that was given. With the enemy 50 meters away he did not have to be told that there is no safety distance that he could play with. He went ahead in a game plan that involved getting killed by his own shell.

Kargil War 1999

For the next two hours, Artillery fire was directed on their own location. Our men, dug fox holes to save themselves from our own shells, and amidst the smoke and fire, Chow and Peekay directed accurate Arty fire on the enemy positions. Each round that landed on their position could be the last round of their life, yet for them the mission now was to save the 80 people with them. During the gaps in the fire, the Battalion quickly evacuated the injured and dead. Our accurate fire surprised the Paki’s. They could no longer direct their own arty fire. They no longer could pick on our soldiers at will. Our men were in the open just covered by our own arty fire. They survived the whole day.

When it was dark again they evacuated all the injured to 20 kms away to an air head, through sheer super human effort. We lost about 18 comrades that day. But for that decision to bring fire on own location many more could have been lost. Luckily, Chow and PeeKay are alive to recount their tale today.win_1435836096_725x725

This operation divided the Paki efforts and attention, which eased out pressure for the Battalion tasked to capture Tiger Hill and that was achieved a day later.

PeeKay was awarded a Sena Medal for Gallantry. Chow received splinter injuries and a GOC in C Commendation Card. Many in the Battalion were awarded for their grit and bravery. Chow’s Arty unit was bestowed the Battle Honour “Kargil”.But no one spoke of these incidents till last week when the headlines transported them back in time.

This is their story. This their heroism. Both these brave men, and others involved in the operations today are serving officers and I cannot reveal more. This is my Salute to them. Our Brave hearts.

My wish is – if and only if these incidents were documented for posterity, our Forces could learn from. I also hope our hierarchy could honour these men appropriately for their sheer courage, and honour them befittingly. So that others can imbibe the spirit of ‘Never say Die’ attitude.

Does it take a Russian to die to tell us that we have better ones closer home? And many of those are sitting at Jantar Mantar asking for their just dues.

My Question to You is – Have we as a Nation, let these Brave men down?


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33 thoughts on ““Bring down the Fire on Me”: Circa 1999 Our Own Tales of Sheer Courage

  1. Sanjeev Kumar on said:

    Sajan once again fantastic effort. Hats off to the brave coursemates and all who participated in the op.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Neeraj Sharma on said:

    Very well written on the brave Indian soldiers who are made of steel & are the REAL CITIZENS of this Nation in true sense. Hats Off & a Grand Salute to the 2 officers! No words can describe their heroism.


  3. Bhupinder on said:

    Well written Sajan! Feel so proud of these course mates of ours!


  4. Amarjot Mangat on said:

    Yet another example of the amazing ‘Courage Under Fire’ demonstrated so often by the officers and men of this great organisation called the Indian Army. Thanks for sharing it with us Sajan. Many salutes to these Bravehearts. May their ilk prosper…


  5. thx for sharing it with the world 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Col BRS Dahiya on said:

    It’s pity that these brave hearts were only awarded Sena Medal and GOC- in -C commendation card. Why don’t we raise a voice for them for highest honour, citing Russian case.When they are awarding Bharat Ratna after almost 70 years, the instance case is not too old.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sanjay hooda on said:

    Kudos Sajan for narrating a soul stirring story. Very appropriately brings out how we forget our heroes and eulogise heroes of other countries.


  8. AMBRISH YADAV on said:

    Any way by which it can be ensured that Mr . khaniya reads this or someone reads it for him.


  9. Suresh on said:

    Bravo…as always.


  10. Vikas on said:

    A lucid account indeed! Not just a reminder of courage under ‘own directed fire’ but also, an epitome of keeping the objective of the mission at the top. Keep up the good work!


  11. Avinash Hemmady on said:

    Extremely well written article sir. Kudos to your skills of expression. Being your brother-in-arms I can well understand the ethos and superlative spirit of these gentlemen to whom the nation owes so much. God speed!


  12. aarcee on said:

    Commendation cards and SM…why not at the lease M in D


  13. aarcee on said:

    Thanks for reminding.. at least shaura chakra or M in D was somewhat appropriate as tgeres no scale to judge theur bravery


  14. Indian Army has many such stories of bravery and the nation and its leaders, academicians and media have taken some strong measures to ensure that the common man is kept unaware of it. It appears to be a planned move by everyone.
    In Canada, the school children are very well aware of the sacrifices of their soldiers as such events and sacrifices are narrated at schools by the teachers, especially on 11 November – Remembrance Day or Poppy Day in Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. RC Yadav on said:

    Great article and well articulated. My salute to our brave course mates and other soldiers who took part in the op.


  16. on said:

    Sajan man….people should go thru every statement in the many have the patience to go thru a really “virtue” article ?…most times virtue is mistaken for virtual….kudos! man…keep on writing ..such wonderful ones……….


  17. Arup on said:

    A beautiful account of the exploits of the brave men who do what is required with full devotion even at the peril to their own safety and without any expectations. Salute & our gratitude to the heroes. Thanks to Sajan for getting it together for others to read and be inspired.


  18. Anil on said:

    Well done …this should be chronicled as a motivational reality for young officers …. I wish I meet Chow and PK some day …


  19. Wyn Chadha on said:

    Awesome the fire within burns for such brave people and to have known them first hand is simply splendid
    well written Sajan as always .


  20. Shyam on said:

    Excellent work …Very inspiring.
    Brave men and valour has always been there and will always be there on our land. Our history proves that we honour and remeber only those who have been appreciated by foreigners.


  21. You brought it out perfectly. Looking within is never never to be forgotten. Sad that we do it so many times. Very good article


  22. Sunaina on said:

    Sajan fantastic.


  23. Rajneesh on said:

    I salute these heroes who have lived up to the expectations. Valour, bravery and patriotism is in our DNA. There will be many unsung heroes like them.I very well written article,
    Thanks and keep it up.


  24. R K Sharma on said:

    I agree and there are many such stories of bravado that go unsung. My salute to these officers and hope their careers have been taken care of and they have not been left on the sides. I am saying this from experience though of a different type but involving extreme bravado. Definitely would like to greet these extremely brave officers to pay my gratitude and compliments.


  25. Vivek Mathur on said:

    A grand salute to Chow and PeeKay. And, thanks, Sajan, for sharing this awe inspiring narrative. These are the real heroes of the nation but for whom, we wouldn’t have a nation, parliament, MPs, MLAs, MNCs, a comfortable lifestyle, infact, Independence itself.
    Present conditions sometimes make one wonder, who these bravehearts are risking their lives for? Why are they never recognised? Why are they always treated shoddily? Why should these guys have to fight for what they rightfully deserve? Why are bureaucrats and Politicians not answerable for short changing them? Why? Why? Why?
    Lots of questions, no answers. Its not enough for citizens to just put a national flag in their car and wear a tricolour badge on Independence and Republic day. We have to constantly strive and work towards a better nation, whichever field we may be in.


    • N.Mohan , I>N.A. S. (rtd). on said:

      Salute the brave hearts who are alive to tell the tale and those who laid their lives in the operation. Let us hope, piously that is, that these and other such heroes will be suitably honoured and compensated by the powers that be. Mohan


  26. GMI Raj on said:

    Total injustice to brave Army men.


  27. shanmugam mudaliar on said:

    Yet our comfortable bureaucrats continue to belittle such brave men of our forces with their puny minds. Shanmugam Mudaliar


  28. Pankaj Fotedar on said:

    Proud to be part of the brave family


  29. Sunaina on said:




    A very encouraging story of young and talented officers, who time and again have displayed loyalty for this country against all odds.
    Well written Sajan.

    We must have a forum to honour them.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Jasdeep Nagpal on said:

    Having been part of the Kargil operations, and having seen the sheer magnitude of those mountains up close, reading the article gives me the creeps.

    So well written, one can nearly feel you are back in those desolate heights. And next to the brave hearts who gave all they had.

    Kudos to the brave officers and men!


  32. pk1313 on said:

    As is expected from a National Hero, by us common men, Chow and PeeKay’s surpassed all expectations and their bravery can never be estimated by language alone. Still Sajan has done an awesome work to give us awareness of what our army personnel do in real battlefield. Hat’s off to our real leaders and protectors.


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