Pune: Veteran Air Force Officer Group Caption Sanjay Dhankhar passes away

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Pune, 22 March 24: Group Captain Sanjay Dhankhar, a veteran Indian Air Force officer and a recipient of the Vayu Sena Medal, passed away recently on 11 March 2024. Born on June 13, 1968, in Rohtak, Haryana, he settled in Khese Park, Pune after his retirement. He is survived by his wife, Mrs Sharmila, and daughter, Ms Sanjana.

He studied at the Air Force Bal Bharti School in Delhi, cultivating the seeds of an extraordinary career. Commissioned as a Fighter Pilot on 17 December 1988, after completing the 73rd course at the National Defence Academy, Group Captain Dhankhar showcased exemplary skills and unwavering dedication with an impeccable record of 3500 accident-free flying hours. He was qualified in a spectrum of aircraft, including the Kiran Mk-I, Iskra, Mig-21 Bis, Mig-21 Bison, and the Mig-29. He commanded the frontline Bison squadron, No.4 Squadron – ‘The Fighting Oorials,’ leaving an indelible mark. The squadron, one of the oldest in IAF, has recently converted from the Bison to the Su-30 MKI.

Serving as Commanding Officer (CO) from 2006 to 2008, Group Captain Dhankhar, led with unparalleled charisma, earning respect and admiration. His leadership was a beacon, steering the squadron with wisdom and courage. During his tenure as the CO, 4 Squadron achieved remarkable milestones, flying more than 4500 sorties and 3000 hours of accident-free flying. Under his guidance, the squadron won three team event trophies and the best maintenance trophy at the Annual Gunnery Meet. In the floods of 2006, he took on additional responsibilities as the base’s Chief Operations Officer and Task Force Commander for Flood Rescue and Relief Operations. His efforts saved 256 lives, delivering 34,600 kg of relief material and food. For his exceptional professionalism, leadership, and devotion to duty, he was awarded the prestigious ‘Vayu Sena Medal’ on 26 Jan 2009.

He also held important instruction appointments at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and the College of Air Warfare, Secunderabad.