Expedition to retrieve the wreckage of the Antonov-12
Sainik Samachar Report by Nagesh Vig
Indian Army launched an expedition to locate the AN-12 aircraft that crashed into South Dhaka Glacier of Lahaul and Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh on February 8, 1968 in which 102 personnel of Indian Army were killed. The expedition was launched to retrieve the wreckage of the aircraft and the mortal remains of Army personnel onboard the aircraft.
The expedition, christened, operation Punar Uthan-II was conducted by Golden Arrow Division. It was flagged off by Maj Gen B Sivasankar, GOC in Ferozepur on June this year. After completing their mission, the expedition members returned to Ferozepur.
Speaking on the occasion, Maj Gen B Sivasankar said that the expedition team has lived upto the reputation of Indian Army of caring for their comrades. Without caring for their personal safety, the team members worked round-the-clock in such inaccessible areas to retrieve the aircraft wreckage and personal belongings of the soldiers who lost their lives in the air crash.
Giving details of the expedition, the team leader, Maj Neeraj Sood said that prior to launch of expedition the team had undergone extensive training in rock-craft, ice-craft, crossing of streams and enhancing their fitness standards. The team also received some guidance from Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) and Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (DMAS), Manali. The team encountered 25 to 30 ft of snow on the glacier which is situated at an altitude of 18,000 ft. Owing to unprecedented snowfall this year no traces of the aircraft were visible initially. It was only after continued search for five days that they were able to retrieve not only the wreckage of the aircraft but also the mortal remains of a soldier and some uniforms. Despite lack of oxygen and inclement weather the team went ahead with courage and lived up to its motto of “We Care and Dare.” Lt Gen Mandhata Singh, GOC, 11 Corps patted the team on the occasion.