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Lone survivor of chopper crash succumbs to injuries

Group Captain Varun Singh passed away on Wednesday morning
Group Captain Varun Singh
Group Captain Varun Singh
File Picture

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui   |   New Delhi   |   Published 16.12.21, 02:33 AM

Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the military helicopter crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu last week, succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday morning, the Indian Air Force said.

Fourteen people were on board the chopper that was taking Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat to Wellington when it crashed on December 8. Group Captain Singh suffered severe burns and had been on life support at the Command Hospital in Bangalore.

“IAF is deeply saddened to inform the passing away of braveheart Group Captain Varun Singh, who succumbed this morning to the injuries sustained in the helicopter accident on 08 Dec 21,” the IAF said in a tweet.

Singh, 39, was flown from the military hospital in Wellington, Ooty, to Bangalore a day after the crash. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. His father retired as a colonel and his younger brother is a lieutenant commander in the navy.

An instructor at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, Singh was on the chopper as the liaison officer for Gen. Rawat's visit to the institute.

Group Captain Singh, who was from Bhopal, had graduated from the National Defence Academy in 2003. He was commissioned as a fighter pilot in 2004 and mainly flew Jaguars and the Tejas during his flying career. He was an experimental test pilot and was awarded the Shaurya Chakra on Independence Day this year for his courage in successfully landing his Tejas fighter aircraft during an aerial emergency in 2020.

While he was undergoing treatment in Bangalore, an inspiring letter that Group Captain Singh had written to the principal of the Army Public School in Haryana, his alma mater, after receiving the Shaurya Chakra went viral on social media.

“It is ok to be mediocre… but it is by no means a measure of things to come in life. Find your calling… whatever you work towards, do your best, never lose hope,” he had said in the letter. He described himself as an average student who found his calling and worked hard to excel in it.

In the letter he wrote that he wanted his story to be shared with the students. “If I am able to inspire even one child to believe… in himself/herself, I would have achieved my objective of writing to you,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences and said Singh had “served the nation with pride, valour and utmost professionalism”.

“I am extremely anguished by his passing away. His rich service to the nation will never be forgotten. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti,” he said in a tweet.


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “My heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of Group Captain Varun Singh. This is a sad moment for the country. We all are with you in this grief.”

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