In 2018, when Kerala was reeling under a deluge, A Pradeep was a part of the army of officers who carried out rescue operations across the state. He was in the team that flew from the Naval Base in Coimbatore. Late evening on December 8, Wednesday, news emerged that Pradeep was one of those killed in the IAF helicopter crash in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, which also killed Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat.
Pradeep was 38. Hailing from Thrissur district of Kerala, Pradeep was a Junior Warrant Officer. He was a flight gunner in the Indian Armed Force and boarded the helicopter from Sulur, where he is stationed along with his wife and two children. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has condoled Pradeep’s death, and remembered the officer’s contributions during the 2018 Kerala floods. A picture of Pradeep in action during the 2018 Kerala floods was shared widely on social media.
JWO Pradeep A from Thrissur, among the 13 who died in the unfortunate crash. This picture shared by his neighbor, shows him in action during relief & rescue operation during the #Kerala floods. His father is on oxygen support, and has not been yet informed of the son's death. pic.twitter.com/vpnxSm1gVj— Sneha Koshy (@SnehaMKoshy) December 9, 2021
“He was a soldier who bravely worked to save the state when Kerala had to face the flood. Condolences to his family members and loved ones,” the Chief Minister said in his condolence message. Pradeep had opted to join the helicopter squad which was engaged in rescue works at various locations in the state and for these efforts he was commended by the President of India when the state witnessed the worst floods in a century.
Pradeep was beside his ailing father until the end of last week, when he came for a two-week break along with his family. It was just towards the end of last week that he returned to duty, and four days after joining he died in the helicopter crash.
It was in 2002 that Pradeep joined the IAF as a weapons-fitter and went on to become a part of the air crew, which enabled him to travel the length and breadth of the country. It was not until late Wednesday night that the news came that Pradeep was on board the helicopter and since then, his house at Thrissur where his parents live has been seeing an unending stream of visitors.
"He was always like one of us and was at the forefront of all functions in his neighbourhood, whenever he came for leave. When he came last, he was mostly beside his ailing father," a neighbour of Pradeep told IANS.
According to another neighbour, Pradeep, after buying a plot of land near his house, wanted to build a new home, as in two years he was eligible to retire. The village is now preparing for the funeral of their favourite son and the villagers are expecting that the last rites might be held on Friday, December 10.