New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday mourned the death of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh who passed away on Saturday at the age of 98.
In his message to Arjan Singh’s son Arvind Singh, the President said: “I am extremely saddened to learn about the passing of our great and cherished air warrior and Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh.”
“The Marshal of the Indian Air Force was a hero of World War II and won our nation’s gratitude for his military leadership in the 1965 War,” he added.
Kovind said Arjan Singh served the nation with distinction and was the “first and only officer of the Indian Air Force who was honoured with the five-star rank as Marshal of the Air Force”.
He said Arjan Singh has remained a living legend for generations of our fellow citizens.
“His service to the nation continued even out of uniform, as Lt. Governor of Delhi, Ambassador of India to Switzerland and the Vatican, High Commissioner to Kenya and Member of the National Commission for Minorities. For his services and achievements, he was honoured with numerous awards including the Padma Vibhushan,” the President recalled.
Naidu also condoled Singh’s death and said the Air Force Marshal “was famous for his role in the 1965 India-Pakistan war”.
“An icon of the Indian military history, the then Chief of Air Staff Arjan Singh had led a young Air Force into the war in 1965 when he was hardly 44 years of age,” Naidu said.
He also said that in 2016, the Indian Air Force named its Panagarh (West Bengal) air base after Arjan Singh on the occasion of his 97th birth anniversary.
Naidu said the Panagarh base would be called Air Force Station Arjan Singh.
“I convey my deepest condolences to the bereaved members of the family and join the nation in praying for eternal peace for the departed soul,” Naidu added.
On Sunday, the government said a state funeral will be accorded to Singh on Monday and the national flag will fly at half-mast.
Arjan Singh was the first five-star officer of the IAF and was for a long time the only living five-star officer.
A Home Ministry statement said the last rites of Arjan Singh would be performed at Brar Square in Delhi Cantonment area at 10 a.m. on Monday.
Arjan Singh, who led the air operations in the 1965 war with Pakistan, died at the Army Research and Referral Hospital here on Saturday. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit after suffering a cardiac arrest.
This is published unedited from the IANS feed.