Soldier of Fortune – A True StoryWhat an incredible, inspiring true story of a soldier! Read on, as a brave soldier pays a fitting tribute to another.
Soldier of Fortune (The untold Story)
This is a story of courage. … A true story of incredible courage of a soldier, whom I’ve had the
privilege of knowing. Someone, who would just not take “NO” for an answer, despite the challenges life
threw at him. A story that needs to be told. There is inevitably a strange, almost labored disconnect between the urgent, distinctive ‘pop’ of the speeding bullet as it whizzes past you and the apparently languid, disarmingly slow movement of those around you. A sardonic, yet glowing affirmation of the theory of relativity, if you will. Those who have been inactive combat and had the privilege of being
fired at, would know. Deependra Singh Sengar did. More than once! It was the day after Valentine’s Day, 1998. Sengar had just been received at the Guwahati airport by the unit’s escort team. At
5’6” and 52 kgs in weight, you could easily mistake him for the a postgraduate student at Guwahati University. Sengar was re-joining the unit in active operations in the North East – after weeks of pleading, screaming & struggling against the orders of Col Ivan Crasto, the Commanding Officer – to man the administrative rear echelon of the unit in a cosy, sleepy town in Himachal Pradesh. That is who he was – a man of action. And men of action, as you would know, abhor routine admin jobs! The first message he overheard, 15 minutes in transit, on the secured communication radio link was garbled. 5-6 senior militant leaders in a house, armed with automatics, pin point location, high credibility of info, apparent transit profile, likely to move out soon. The Quick Reaction Team (QRT) from the unit was starting out, but could hit target only in an hour. Sengar quickly realized that with a short detour, he could be at the target in 20 mins. Saving 40
mins could mean the difference between success and
A flurry of messages later, Sengar had convinced the Battalion HQ that he and his escort team were best positioned to initiate contact with the militants before they disappeared. The QRT could follow. Now, escort teams are usually a rag tag team of whoever is available. Fully kitted out, sure – weapons, ammo, secured communication – the works. But still, certainly not the first choice of guys for going into combat with. But that didn’t deter Sengar. He swung in and hit the target in 20 mins, as planned. A short, sharp exchange of fire ensued. 2 reds down, 3 had fled. It is then that Sengar realized that he had been hit. Two bullets had pierced through his abdomen, making a clean, almost unnoticeable entry in the front and a classic, disproportionate exit wound in his back. What they call in
the medical world, rather disparagingly, a ‘clean’ shot. The rest was a blur. The flurry of the evacuation process. Hand carried, on four wheel drive, by chopper, through the local hospital in the neighborhood, and then to the Base Hospital at Guwahati.
A violent firefight with a group of freshly inducted militants. A burst of fire from an AK-47 tore through his upper thigh and hip. Bleeding profusely and his hip bone in tatters, we knew if we didn’t evacuate him in time, we’d lose him. A paratrooper in the Divisional HQ, a chopper pilot, who was on a routine training mission learnt of Sengar being hit.
Without waiting for authorization, violating every rule in the book, flew in, he landed at a hastily secured patch at the base of the hill feature and evacuated Sengar to the hospital through a route not allowed for Indian aircrafts – Sengar reached hospital in 45 mins! A couple of more mins of delay, and he would have been history. Back to the ‘cut n sew’ story; only, this time, it was more serious than the first. Sengar survived. Barely. He was transferred to Delhi’s super specialty Army hospital two months later
and it was then, that his parents were brought to Delhi and the news broken. All this while he was told that he would recover and be back in action in a short time- It took him another month to finally learn from the docs their verdict – He would never walk again. This was a body blow (pun unintended) even for Sengar. He decided to quit the Army. He had no interest in peddling files clad in the fabulous olives. Once he had waded through the rivers of emotion, which lasted all of 24 hours, he decided to take
charge of his apparently fragile destiny. Sengar started researching options of an alternate career path. He was 30, single and had the energy of a bull – or three. It didn’t take him long to realise that he needed to tame the beast called ‘CAT’ – the Common Admission Test, to take a shot at passing through the portals of the premier business schools. As he did a SWOT analysis, he identified that his analytic skills weren’t what they once were. So, he decided to take on the task of conquering Arithmophobia – his paranoia of numbers. He got all the math books and diligently went through class four to class 12 books. Minor hiccups like the fact that he had to be carried from his hospital bed to the car, or the fact that they had to make special provision for him at the classes, so he could recline on an ad hoc chair and take notes didn’t bother him one bit. Sengar took the CAT in Dec 2000. Based on his results, he got a call from 15
of the 16 B schools he had applied to – IIM (A), IIM (B), IIM ©, IIM (L) …. A veritable who’s who of the B school list. Four days after he hung up his beloved Olive Greens, he got married. Eight days later, he joined the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Two brilliant
years of number crunching analysis later, Sengar graduated with distinction – on crutches. Today, Sengar is a top management professional with Microsoft, in Singapore with a doting wife and two wonderful kids. If you thought that’s the final update on his story, wait, because, there is one final flourish. After ten long years on crutches, Sengar decided he had had enough. He chucked his crutches into a corner & decided to rough it out. Slowly, and with tremendous perseverance, he started walking. In under a year, he was going for short jogs. In Sep 13, on a trip to India, he decided to revisit his old unit. He got in touch with the Commanding Officer, who invited him to go for a run with the unit in the standard Battle Physical Efficiency Test- with loaded backpack and a weapon.
And Sengar did.The ‘Rocket’ had returned. To a hero’s welcome