On the occasion of the 70th Republic Day, the Ministry of Defence announced the winners of the prestigious Nao Sena Medal.
Captain Vijay Varma, the Naval pilot who airlifted two pregnant women during Kerala floods, has received the award for gallantry. Other winners include Naval officer Abhilash Tomy, the man who made headlines by becoming the first Indian to circumnavigate solo around the world on sail. He has been awarded the medal for devotion to duty.
Captain Vijay Varma‚Äôs rescue operations became viral following a video of him airlifting a pregnant woman to safety. He has since been hailed as a hero of the Kerala floods.
Captain Varma has been working as staff of the INS Garuda since August 2011. During the Kerala floods, Captain Varma was part of the Operation Madad, to help rescue stranded people in the floods. He was the pilot in command of the Chetak aircraft and has rescued a total of 24 survivors including the two pregnant ladies.
In one rescue operation as pilot in command, he undertook the high risk operation of rescuing the pregnant woman whose water had just broken and was in labour stuck in a mosque. The high risk operation was undertaken by the captain and hovering was not advised while rescuing the pregnant lady as the highly populated area was completely inundated but had several obstructing structures, power lines, which could have got disrupted.
Tomy made news first when, in 2013, he completed the first Indian to complete a solo, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation of the world under sail on INS Mhadei. He later went on another mission from Mumbai and was welcomed by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in return. The feat also won by the prestigious Kirti Chakra award.
The medals will be handed over to awardees on the evening of Republic Day.