Air Marshal Edul Jahangir Dhatigara (1899) was commissioned in Flying (Pilot) Branch of the India Air Force in June 1942. He served with distinction during the operations in North West Frontier Provinces in 1943-44, J&K in 1948, Nagaland in 1956, Goa in 1962, Ladakh in 1962 and Indo-Pakistan of 1965 and 1971.
Early in his career, as a flight Commander of a Transport Squadron, he successfully organised relief operations during the earthquake and flood catastrophe that had struck Assam in 1950. In October, 1954, he was assigned the command of an Air Force Station in the Eastern Sector. In this capacity he planned and executed counter-insurgency operations in 1956. During these operations he undertook a very hazardous supply dropping mission in which his aircraft received many bullet hits from ground fire. For this act of courage and leadership he was awarded the Kirti Chakra.
The citation of the Kirti Chakra Award read: “During the operation in the Naga Hills, the outpost garrison at Sakhai was cut off on 27th March 1956 and the hostiles kept up the attack on the outpost throughout the night. Next morning an emergency message was received that unless an immediate airdrop of water and ammunition was carried out at Sakhai, the garrison would have no means of defence. The aircraft which had flown on a normal sortie earlier that day had reported fast deterioration of weather and had suggested stoppages of further flying. The garrison commander pressed that the airdrop was absolutely essential. In the circumstances Wing Commander Dhatigara decided to make the attempt himself. There was also the requirement that the airdrop should be made in a zone of 40 yards by 20 yards. On reaching the spot Wing Commander Dhatigara found that dropping zone was partially covered and the air was very turbulent. After the first run-in, the outpost informed the aircraft that dropping circuit should be changed as the aircraft was being fired upon when passing over the villages of Sakhai, Vishyepu and Khivi. But due to clouds no other circuit was possible. Wing Commander Dhatigara, disregarding the advice from the outpost continued the airdropping operations in spite of bad weather and automatic fire from the hostiles. The supply of water and ammunition was successfully delivered to the garrison in good time and good condition.
By volunteering to carry out the airdrop under very adverse weather conditions and in the face of heavy automatic fire Wing Commander Edul Jahangir Dhatigara displayed initiative, courage and skill which was in the best traditions of the I.A.F.”
After the Goa operations in 1962, he was entrusted the task of clearing Dabolim airport of unexploded bombs and repairing the damaged airfield. He accomplished this heavy task in a short span of six days. For this valuable service he was commended by the Chief of the Air Staff.
In 1964, he was assigned the Command of an operational Wing in the Eastern Sector. In this capacity, he was responsible for the successful operations carried out by Fighters and Transport aircraft against Pakistan in September, 1965. During the Indo-Pak war of 1971, he was the Air Officer Commanding of an operational Wing in the Western Sector and under his inspiring leadership the Wing made conspicuous contributions towards the achievements of Fighter and Bomber squadrons during the operations against Pakistan.
Air Vice Marshal Dhatigara took over as Assistant Chief of the Air staff (Operations) at Air Headquarters in June, 1972. He has successfully tackled intricate operational problems and has established a very amiable and most satisfactory rapport with his counterparts in Army and Naval Headquarters.
Air Marshal Edul Jahangir Dhatigara retired after rendering a distinguished service of the most exceptional order. He passed away on 4th October 2010.