IDR Blog

I tied my turban myself
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Dr Harinder Singh Bedi | Date:29 May , 2015 9 Comments
Dr Harinder Singh Bedi
Head of Cardio Vascular , Thoracic and Endovascular Surgery, CMC College & Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Wg Cdr Bhullar Post Operation

He walked into my Clinic – ramrod straight – a dignified elderly fit man. I knew immediately that he was from the Armed Forces – you can retire a man from the Armed Forces but you cannot take the Armed Forces culture out of the man. “Doc – I need bypass surgery“ he said in a no nonsense way. I went through his records. He had suffered a major heart attack and his angiogram showed critical blocks. His heart functioning was labored. He was a retired Wing Commander (WgCdr) of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Armed Forces men hate to be tied down. Action and discipline is in their blood. These qualities stay for life – thank God for that!  By Day 1 – he was sitting in a chair reading the paper.

“Just fix me up good“ – was all he said. No questions about risks, complications etc. His wife – a graceful lady –maintained a brave stoicfront too – though I could make out that she was very worried.

We took him for a triple bypass. The surgery went well. His heart bounced back to normal . He was ‘fast tracked’ in the ICU. Armed Forces men hate to be tied down. Action and discipline is in their blood. These qualities stay for life – thank God for that!  By Day 1 – he was sitting in a chair reading the paper. Day 2 – he combed his hair and tidied himself up. He had to look smart to the nurses – you see !

He went home on the 6th day . On his 1st post op visit he was smartly turned out (Pic above). “I tied my turban myself” – he proudly told me. All systems were good.

In my office his eyes alighted on my father’s photo (Pic below) . “Huh – I know this guy” he says pointing to the third man in the standing row . “I flew him in my Dakota with a bunch of paratroopers in Dec 1971“. Armed forces men (i e Army, Air Force, Navy) have an unwritten code of mutual respect for each other. I knew he was referring to the war of liberation of Bangladesh. I was in school then – somehow we found it fun although I knew that dad was in the thick of battle. There was curfew in Dehradun, we dug trenches in school, had mock drills, and had total enforced blackout at night while preparing for final school exams in candle light .

Dad was a paratrooper (a.k.a – the red devils – because of their maroon turbans / berets ) in the SFF of India (the then secret and decorated Establishment 22) and had been parachuted behind enemy lines in Chittagong with his men. They were part of the brave effort by the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini in getting the Pakistani forces to surrender. Anyway the Wg Cdr (then Flt Lt) flew the DC3 popularly called the Dakota which was used in the 1971 war. As per his memory – it was a twin prop piston engine aircraft which could seat 28 fully armed paratroopers . It had a cruising speed of 150 Mph and range of over a 1000 miles. Thus it could fly nonstop from Delhi to Bombay!

He said that he remembered the sortie where he dropped dad and his troops! On recalling that day he looked at his wife , twirled his moustache and smiled .

When I got home I told my dad about this incident . He squared his shoulders, looked at my mother, twirled his moustache and smiled .

Small world – no?!!!

Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

Post your Comment

2000characters left

9 thoughts on “I tied my turban myself

  1. With due respect, sir, the only airborne action of the ’71 war was the 11 December drop of 2 Para Battalion Group over Tangail about 80km north west of the capital Dhaka. The SFF or Est 22 was deployed in the Chittagong Hill Tracks and they moved by land…. The Indian Air Force at that time did not have enough air effort to be deployed for two airborne operations.

    The term Red Devils is an exclusivity of the paratroopers of the army’s airborne fraternity, and not shared with para-trained personnel of either of the two sister services, leave alone airborne-qualified personnel of the home ministry, under which Est 22 falls.

    The picture above too is of another era….one can spot a British RAF instructor which were part of the Indian airborne fraternity only till 1947. Also, the padded helmets worn by the paratroopers in the picture is of WW2 era, while the 22 came up in 1962 after the Chinese debacle.

  2. With due respect, sir, the only airborne action of the ’71 war was the 11 December drop of 2 Para Battalion Group over Tangail about 80km north west of the capital Dhaka. The SFF or Est 22 was deployed in the Chittagong Hill Tracks and they moved by land…. The Indian Air Force at that time did not have enough air effort to be deployed for two airborne operations.

    The term Red Devils is an exclusivity of the paratroopers of the army’s airborne fraternity, and not shared with para-trained personnel of either of the two sister services, leave alone airborne-qualified personnel of the home ministry, under which Est 22 falls.

  3. Hi:

    What is your father’s name? My father was also part of an airborne operation in ’71 with 2 Para Bn Gp over Tangail. He was earlier involved in the raising of the Est 22, also called the SFF. He was one of the six officers to join Gen Uban in Delhi, moving to Chakrata and then to Agra for the jump training.

    • Thanks for the comments – I saw them just now . My father was Major KMS Bedi – he made his final parajump of life last year (2016) . From what I recall he was associated with Gen Uban too . As you have rightly pointed out – the pic is obviously of pre 1947 time . The story was shared as it highlights the josh and camaraderie of the Forces and of the human spirit .

  4. I feel proud that I gave my youth to an organisation specially the Infantry which is so different from the general environment outside: The ethos, traditions, camaraderie and general positiveness is something I regret even the Ambanis or Gandhis or Modis could ever dream of……….

  5. May God’s blessings guide & help you in achieving greater success in giving
    new life to heart patients.Most doctor’s are more like a God to any kind of patience.May God always assist you in achieving your life goals.
    Perupkar

More Comments Loader Loading Comments