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Women Observers of Navy awarded ‘wings'

Special Correspondent



READY FOR SERVICE: Commodore M.R. Ajayakumar, Naval Officer In-Charge, Kerala, looks as officers who graduated from the Observer School and earned their ‘wings' march on at a passing-out ceremony on the INS Garuda at the Southern Naval Command in Kochi on Saturday.

KOCHI: Sub-Lieutenants Priya Jeyakumar, Sandhya Chauhan, Swetha and Santosh Kumari presented a picture of poise as they donned with consummate pride the ‘wings' earned by them at a passing out ceremony held at the Southern Naval Command here on Saturday.

They are now Observers of the Navy, ready to take on the onerous responsibility of operating the array of navigational systems, sensors and weapons on board the force's fleet of maritime patrol aircraft like the TU-142, IL-38 and Dornier. “The eyes and ears of the naval fleet at sea,” as Commodore M.R. Ajay Kumar, Naval Officer In-Charge, Kerala, put it. The award of the wings marked the culmination of their 16 months of training, the last six at the Observer School under the Southern Naval Command learning the ropes of being airborne tacticians to play a role in maritime operations, more so in times of conflict.

“We've always cherished a passion for flying,” Sub-Lt Santosh Kumari told The Hindu after the graduation ceremony. Sub-Lts Swetha and Santosh Kumari had nurtured dreams of fashioning a career in flying since the days they were part of the NCC air wing. As for Sub-Lt Priya Jeyakumar, her father, who was in the naval armament service, provided the inspiration. Sub-Lt Sandhya Chauhan ‘feels nice' to wear the wings and takes pride in the fact that her brother is serving the army. “On ground, as we learnt the theory part of it, flying seemed difficult, but after the first few sorties, we were perfectly at home and wanted more,” said Sub-Lt Swetha. During training, they had occasion to interact with Sub-Lts Ambica Hooda and Seema Rani Sarma, the pioneering women observers of the Navy.

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