Service No : 23771 F(P)
Date of Birth : July 17, 1973
Place of birth : Nashik, Maharashtra
Last Rank : Flight Lieutenant
Unit : 114 HU
Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force
Operation : Op Meghdoot
Awards : SC
Martyrdom : July 16, 2000
Flight Lieutenant Sameer Riaz Kagdi hailed from the Nashik district of Maharashtra and was was born on 17 Jul 1973. Son of Shri RM Kagdi, he was inclined to join the Armed Forces since his younger days. He got selected to join the prestigious NDA after his schooling and further got qualified for the Indian Air Force. He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on 16 Dec 1995 at the age of 22 years.
He joined the flying stream of the IAF and got trained as a helicopter pilot as part of the 156th Pilots' course. By 2000, Flt Lt Sameer Riaz Kagdi had put in around 5 years of service and evolved into a professionally competent helicopter pilot having expertise in various air operations.
Air Operations (Op Meghdoot) : 04 July 2000
During July 2000, Flt Lt SR Kagdi was serving with 114 Helicopter Unit known as “Siachen Pioneers.” 114 HU was formed at Leh on 01 Apr 1964 with an establishment of 10 Allouette helicopters with Squadron Leader Arvind Dalaya as its first commanding officer. Towards the end of the year 1964, the Unit HQ was shifted to Jammu from where a detachment operated in Srinagar till 1975 before shifting back to Jammu. Thereafter the Unit moved back to Leh in 1987 and was maintaining a permanent detachment at Thoise for Air Maintenance of Siachen Glacier under Operation Meghdoot. In the year 2000, 114 HU, with Wing Commander Aravindra Singh Butola as its Commanding Officer and operating Cheetah helicopters, was engaged in operations in support of the Indian Army as part of "Operation Meghdoot". Flt Lt SR Kagdi undertook many air support operations after joining the unit in Oct 1999 and gathered substantial experience of flying in challenging operating conditions.
Flt Lt SR Kagdi with his commendable professional skills gained the status of glacial captain in "Op Meghdoot" in a record time of five months. During the nine months starting from Oct 1999, he flew 350 hours, including 225 hours on the Glacier. On several occasions he flew through enemy shelling to drop supplies to tactically crucial posts at the world's highest helipads. On 04 July 2000, Flt Lt SR Kagdi was detailed to fly as a captain of a Cheetah helicopter with Flt Lt Siddharth Puranik as co-pilot to Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO). While flying to DBO, 05 nm short of Goshen, his helicopter experienced collective pitch lever failure and started descending rapidly. He handled this grave emergency in an extremely professional and competent manner. He selected the most suitable force landing field available and put down the helicopter with only cyclic control.
However while doing so, Flt Lt SR Kagdi sustained grievous spinal injuries and fractures. Unmindful of his excessive pain, his accurate and logical analysis of the emergency brought out the factors which gave the subsequent Court of Inquiry the requisite direction and made it possible to determine the cause of the failure and instituting remedial actions, thus preventing further recurrence. Flt Lt SR Kagdi later succumbed to his injuries on 16 July 2000 in Command Hospital, Chandigarh. Flt Lt SR Kagdi was a valiant air warrior and professionally competent pilot who laid down his life at the age of 27 years in the line of his duty. Flt Lt SR Kagdi was awarded "'Shaurya Chakra" on 15 August 2000 for his professional courage, devotion to duty and supreme sacrifice in the best tradition of the Indian Air Force.
Flt Lt Sameer Riaz Kagdi is survived by his wife Smt Zohra Sameer.