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Squadron Leader
A. B. Devaiah
Maha Vir Chakra
Born 24 December 1932
Died 1965
Place of birth Kodagu
Place of death Pakistan
Allegiance  India
Service/branch Indian Air Force
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

Ajjamada Boppayya Devayya was the only Air Force Officer to be awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) posthumously so far. The Maha Vir Chakra is the second highest wartime gallantry award and is less in precedence only to the Param Vir Chakra. During the 1965 India-Pakistan War, Sqn Ldr A B Devayya (called 'Wings of Fire') was part of a strike mission (on the Pakistani airbase Sargodha) when he was attacked by an enemy aircraft. He shot down the enemy pursuer's plane but in the process his aircraft got damaged and he went missing. Presumably he died in Pakistani territory. 23 years later, in 1988, he was posthumously awarded the retrospective MVC award for this feat in the 1965 conflict.[1][2]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Devayya was born on 24 December 1932, at Coorg, Karnataka. He was the son of Dr. Bopayya. In 1954 he was commissioned into the Indian Air Force as a pilot.[3] During the outbreak of the 1965 war, he was an instructor at the Air Force Flying College. He was posted to No.1 "Tigers" Squadron and flew the Mystere IVa fighter bomber.[4]

As a senior flying instructor, Squadron Leader Devayya was part of an aircraft strike mission which went to Sargodha airfield in Pakistan. Despite actually being a standby in case one of the first 12 aircraft dropped out, he joined the air battle. Devayya was intercepted by an enemy F-104 Starfighter flown by Pakistani pilot Flt. Lt. Amjad Hussain. Devayya successfully evaded the Starfighter's attacks. But the faster aircraft caught up with him and damaged his plane. Yet Devayya attacked the Starfighter and struck it. The Starfighter went down while the pilot Hussain ejected from his seat and parachuted. It is not known what happened to Devayya. The IAF Mysteres were short on fuel and efficiency. The Mystere aircraft was destroyed and it is assumed that Devayya died on Pakistani soil.[4][5]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The IAF was not aware of what had happened to Devayya, first recording him missing and later declaring him dead. Later, a British writer, John Fricker, was commissioned by the Pakistani Air Force to write an account of the war derived from Pakistani sources in 1979.[4][5] What lead to Devayya's actual death still remains a mystery. It was revealed much later by Pakistan that Devayya’s body was found almost intact by villagers not very far from Sargodha and buried.[5][6]

From Fricker's work, the IAF realised what had truly happened and in 1988 announced that the Maha Vir Chakra was to be awarded to Devayya posthumously. This is the only posthumous Maha Vir Chakra that the IAF has received.[4][5] 21 IAF personnel (including two Canberra pilots Wg Cdr Jag Mohan Nath and late Wg Cdr Padmanabha Gautham who have the distinction of receiving the bar to the Maha Vir Chakra) have received the Maha Vir Chakra in four wars and numerous actions since 1947.[1][2]

Mrs. Devayya accepted the posthumous Maha Vir Chakra awarded to her husband in 1988, nearly 23 years after the war.[7] On September 7, 2009, the private bus stand circle in Madikeri in Kodagu was named after him.[8][9][10][11]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Maha Vir Chakra awards (IAF)". Bharat Rakshak (Indian Armed Forces). http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Awards/Gallantry/302-MVC.html. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Maha Vir Chakra awards (1988)". Bharat Rakshak (Indian Armed Forces). http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Database/Awards/awards.php?qyear=1988. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  3. "A B Devayya". Bharat Rakshak (Indian Armed Forces). http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/HEROISM/Devayya.html. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Maha Vir Chakra Awardee List". Bharat Rakshak (Indian Armed Forces). http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Database/Awards/awards.php?qaward=MVC. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Devayya's Encounter - 1965 War - 7 September 1965". Bharat Rakshak (Indian Armed Forces). http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Galleries/AviationArt/DebGohain/1965-Devayya-Encounter.jpg.html. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  6. "Squadron Leader Ajammada Boppaya Devayya". Bharat Rakshak. http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Database/4810. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  7. "Epilogue : Where are they now?". Bharat Rakshak. http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/1965War/Photos-10.html. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  8. Correspondent, Special (8 September 2013). "Tributes paid to war hero Devayya". http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/tributes-paid-to-war-hero-devayya/article5106521.ece. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  9. Coorg. "Kodagu blog". coorgblog. blogspot. http://coorgblog.blogspot.in/2010/07/category-military-service-indian-army.html. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  10. Dinesh, B C (Dec 20, 2010). "Dedicated to nation’s defence". http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/article172390.ece?service=print. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  11. Correspondent, Staff (September 9, 2009). "Circle named after A.B. Devaiah". http://www.hindu.com/2009/09/09/stories/2009090950610200.htm. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 

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