In a rare exception, Defence Minister A K Antony has granted permission to a flight cadet, who was disabled in a flying accident, to join the Air Force as a ground duty officer. R K Herojit Singh was an exceptional cadet at the Air Force Academy but got disabled from the waist down during his service training in Hakimpet.
While the norm in the past has been that disabled cadets are boarded out on service, in Herojit’s case an exception was made after the Air Force moved a proposal to recommend his case for commissioning into the Accounts branch after an additional training of six months. The case was mooted as the Air Force felt that while his injury had made the cadet unfit for any flying duty, his intellectual and motor capabilities were fully intact and would allow him to work as a ground duty officer without hindrance.
“A budding flying trainee, full of promise and commitment to the IAF, Herojit not only had a meritorious record, with exceptional performance in all fields during service training of four years (three at the NDA and one at the Air Force Academy), he was also adjudged as ‘The Most Accomplished Flight Cadet’ of his course,” an IAF officer said.
With Herojit, who hails from Manipur, determined that he still wanted to serve the IAF despite the accident that occurred in August last year, the case was strongly moved by the Air Force. With Antony finally giving his approval, it has been decided that Herojit will now undergo a training of six months in the accounts branch at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal from January, paving the way for his commissioning.
While there have been several disabled and even wheelchair-bound officers in the armed forces, this is probably the first time that a waist down paralysed cadet would be formally commissioned into the armed forces.
In the Army, a wheelchair-bound officer is currently in service as a Brigadier.