COVER STORY

Warriors of a 'special' kind

6-para-commandos-week Eye on target: 10 Para (SF) commandos during training

Every man we meet in our life is fighting his or her own battle on different fronts. Each battle offers us two choices—either break down or break records, says the Special Force commando. Some of these invisible and unsung heroes tell us how they broke records and why is it so important to stay the course. While there are no records kept of them, what they leave behind are legacies of warriors of a 'special' kind.

1:

In 2014, Captain Vishwas was doing his routine para jumps at Agra when he suffered a parachute emergency. He fell from a height of 200 feet and suffered burst fractures in his spine among other injuries. “When I regained consciousness, the first thing I realised was that I couldn't move. Only my hands were moving. I told myself that I will be able to do something in my life since my hands can move,'' said Vishwas. The officer was evacuated to Delhi and metal implants were used to prop up his spine again. He underwent a long process of recovery but the doctors were still not ready to upgrade his medical category. That would have meant that he could never be a paratrooper again. For a paratrooper it is mandatory to undergo refresher jumps periodically. Vishwas was adamant. From leaving his wheelchair to take his first steps and swimming 3.5 km non stop within a year, the paratrooper not only got his medical clearance but returned to his battalion. He chose to do his para jump on the same date he had got injured, three years later. “God is kind, he gave me a chance to come back,'' says the braveheart.

2:

Captain David was born in a small village in Manipur where olive green-dressed people would pop up out of no where. Their presence always preceded movement of insurgent groups through the village. As children, David and his friends would run around admiring their weapons. Devoid of all comforts of life, the parents wanted their children to be part of a better world when they grow up. David was sent to Imphal to pursue his studies and he started visiting home on two occasions—summer break and New Year. One day when he came home, he found his hamlet had been burnt . The area had witnessed violence due to ethic clashes and David's family was forced to hide in the jungle. “That winter, the Christmas carols we sang in the jungles were the best carols I had ever sung ,'' he said. David went to Chennai to pursue higher studies. “It was in Chennai that I got a chance to interact with people coming from different states. I had the experience of tying a lungi, speaking Tamil and also growing a mustache,'' he said. Soon, he joined the Officer Training Academy in Chennai. “It is here I realised that men are made out of boys and groomed to lead others. The drill, endless physical training and the sleepless nights toughened me up,'' he said. During the passing out parade at the academy, David was awarded the Sword of Honor and he got a chance to command the parade. On completion of his training, he opted for the Special forces and wore the coveted maroon beret. Major David is one of the ace commandos of 10 Para today.

3:

Major Vijay Tejpal is a phoenix that literally rose from the ashes to become a hero. On December 15, 2011, Major Tejpal was undergoing the Ghatak course at Belgam. The gruelling 40-day course is mandatory for all infantry officers. The officer was doing extremely well on the course. During the battle obstacle course test, he broke his leg at multiple places. The doctors told him he may never be able to walk again. He was being advised to switch from Special Forces to Ordnance or Supply CORPS. But Tejpal did not wish to be anything but a paratrooper. After one year of rehab, he went back to Belgam to complete the Ghatak course. Tejpal stood first in the course. ''Things will go wrong sometimes but one should never give up,'' he says. Today, Tejpal is an asset for his force.

(Names have been changed to protect the identity of serving officers)

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