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May 30, 1999
Helicopter crew's bodies may be recovered soon
The bodies of the four crew members of the MI-17 helicopter gunship that was shot down in Kargil on Friday is expected to be recovered by the evening, an air force official said today.
Squadron Leader Rajiv Pundhir, Flight Lieutenant S Muhilan, Sergeant Raj Kishore Sahu and Sergeant P V N R Prasad were killed when an American Stinger missile hit their helicopter while it was participating in operations against Pakistani infiltrators in the Drass sub-sector
The Russian-made helicopter's crash had been identified on Friday itself but since the terrain was very difficult to negotiate, it took time for ground relief to reach there.
Squadron Leader Pundhir, 37, was a keen flier and had over 3,000 hours of operational flying to his credit. He had flown almost all the helicopters in the IAF fleet and had actively participated in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka.
In 1988 he was awarded the CAS commendation for his dedication to duty and professionalism. He is survived by his wife Sharmila and two children, Bhavya (7) and Karan (5). He was born and educated in Dehra Dun.
Flight Lieutenant Muhilan, 27, was considered one of the best shots in rocketry. The officer who had 1250 hours of flying to his credit belonged to Karnataka. He leaves behind a wife, Bina, and a two-year-old son, Dhruv.
Sergeant Sahu, 28, was a flight engineer with 360 hours of flying on the MI-17. A sincere and dedicated flier, he was ever willing to undertake any flying mission, the air force said.
A flight gunner, Sergeant Prasad had been awarded a commendation by the AOC-in-C in 1995 for his devotion to duty. He had 1200 hours of accident and incident free flying to his credit. He is survived by his wife Anuradha and a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Hyndavi.
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