Arjan Singh, first ever Marshal of the IAF, critically ill


Marshal of Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, well-known for his role in the 1965 India-Pakistan war is critically ill and has been admitted to the Army Hospital Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi, the IAF said on Saturday.

The Padma Vibhushan recipient is the only Air Force officer to have been promoted to a five-star rank, according to the newspaper.

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Born on 15 April 1919 in Lyallpur, Punjab (now in Pakistan), Arjan Singh entered the distinguished Royal Air Force College at Cranwell at the age of 19 and graduated as a pilot officer the following year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Marshall soon after he was admitted to the hospital. The Marshal has flown over 60 aircraft and remained a flyer until the end of his career with the IAF. "Hon'ble Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman visited him in Army Hospital R&R, New Delhi" says an official release.

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Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh being felicitated by President Pratibha Patil on the Yeshawantrao Chavan Centennial Celebration function at the Gateway of India in Mumbai in March, 2012. "I also met his family members", Modi tweeted. An honorary icon of the Indian military history, Singh had led IAF into in the 1965 war, when he was just 44 years of age.

He was promoted as a Squadron Leader in 1944. He was given command of the IAF Display flight flying Hawker Hurricanes after the war which toured India giving demonstrations. It was then that he led the squadron against the Japanese during the Arakan Campaign. When Pakistan launched its Operation Grand Slam, in which an armoured thrust targeted the vital town of Akhnur, he was summoned to the defence minister's office with a request for air support.

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In Jan 2002 Arjan Singh was conferred 5 Star Rank Officer.