Meet Param Vir Chakra awardee Yogendra Singh Yadav who survived 15 bullet wounds in the Kargil war
The Param Vir Chakra is India’s highest military decoration for gallantry during battle. It is awarded for rarest of the rare gallantry which is beyond the call of duty and which in normal life, is considered impossible to do. The medal is known for having one of the most stringent selection processes of any military in the world. Out of 24 Vir recipients, 14 sacrificed their lives for the motherland.
One of the proud-alive recipients is Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav.
Born in 1980 in the village of Aurangabad Ahir, Yadav was the son of former soldier Karan Singh Yadav who fought the Indo-Pak wars as part of the Kumaon Regiment.
Yogendra along with his brother would frequently spent evenings listening to his father’s war stories and tales of Indian military heroes. This instilled a deep sense of patriotism in Yadav from a young age. No surprise, he decided to join the Army at the age of 16 in the Grenadier regiment.
Mission Kargil Begins…
On May 3, 1999, some Kashmiri and Pakistani militants managed to storm and take control of several strategic forts and bunkers along the border. They were left abandoned at the end of the war. This action prompted the Kargil conflict which lasted almost 3 months.
One of the most strategically vital points captured was a group of fortified hard points atop a 17,411-foot-tall mountain known as Tiger Hill, Point 4660.
Tiger Hill is the tallest hill in the Kargil region that allowed the enemy to look down on the 56 Brigade’s headquarters as well as watch the Srinagar-Leh highway supply movements and for troops.
Unsurprisingly, the top Indian military brass demanded immediate recapture of hills at any cost. This was the moment where Yadav’s commando platoon entered the picture.
The mission of the 18 grenadiers was to scale an icy mountain, 1000-foot near the vertical section of the mountain, and assault the 3 fortified bunkers, while artillery bombardments distracted the Pakistani forces stationed.
The 19-year-old Yadav wasted no time volunteering to climb the peak unassisted. Yadav’s mission was to affix the ropes to specific areas so that the rest of the grenadier squad could follow him more quickly.
3-bullet wounds and still battling
Trained in both mountaineering and alpine warfare, Singh was an exceptional climber and was reportedly able to scale half a section of the mountain in mere minutes. This was surprising for everyone because time and oxygen levels were not ideal for such fast climbing.
Unfortunately, Yadav’s platoon was spotted and the enemy opened fire, martyring the commanding officer and few others squad members. In this attack, Yadav sustained 3 bullet injuries, climbed the rest of the way, and pushed himself to the 1st bunker. He was hurling grenades and killing every enemy inside.
12-bullet wounds and still battling
Then, the attention of the second enemy position was on Yogendra. They opened fire on the young man, who was soon joined by 2 of his companions. This deadly trio killed the 2 Pakistani soldiers with an ice axe.
At that point, the surviving members of the 18 Grenadiers reached Yadav. By that time, Yadav had sustained a further 12 bullet wounds, 2 hand grenade wounds, and had his arm broken by an explosion. Yadav used his belt to make a sling for his arm.
Next, he pulled out his pistol and charged the third & final position. The rest of his squad followed and captured the final point.
Assumed dead but he was still battling for life in hospital
News of Yogendra Singh Yadav’s valour and total disregard for his safety in extreme circumstances soon reached the military base. He was immediately recommended for the prestigious Param Vir Chakra at the tender age of just 19 years.
The medal is a symbol of pride for any military person. It is not just awarded for everyday gallantry, it is awarded for the “Most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, in the presence of the enemy, whether on land at sea or in the air.
This honour was awarded to Yogendra Singh Yadav posthumously, while he was battling in hospital with deadly injuries. Yes, he not only sustained the wounds but he made it back down the mountain and to the base hospital.
His young wife notified the military that Yogendra is alive and some were assuming him dead, confusing with the namesake in the same battle.
We salute the phenomenal bravery of Subedar Major Yogendra Singh.