Posted 19 Sep 2017 04:01 PM

Arjan Singh was an Indian Air Force Marshal who served as a Chief of Air Staff. He was born on 15th April 1919 in Lyallpur, Punjab (now known as Faisalabad, Pakistan) in a Jatt Sikh Family. His family was into agriculture and few were also into armed forces in order to match up with the community traditions. Whereas Arjan Singh was among the fourth generation to join British Indian Armed Forces.
Singh pursued his studies in Montgomery, British India (now in Pakistan) and later entered the RAF College Cranwell in 1938 and was commissioned as a pilot officer in December 1939. In 1943, he was promoted to acting squadron leader and became the commander of No. 1 Squadron. Singh led No. 1 Squadron, Indian Air Force into combat during the Arakan Campaign in 1944. He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in June 1944. Later he served as a Chief of Air Staff for Indian Air Force services from 1964 to 1969. For his remarkable service in commanding the IAF during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan and became the first IAF officer to be promoted to Air Chief Marshal. He was Lieutenant Governor of Delhi from 1989 to 1990. In 2002, he became the first and only officer of the Indian Air Force to be promoted to five-star rank as Marshal of the Indian Air Force, equal to the army rank of Field Marshal.
Arjan Singh almost faced court-martial in February 1945 when he was trying to boost the morale of a fellow trainee pilot by conducting a low-level air pass over a house in Kerala. He believed that such tricks were essential for every cadet to excel as a fighter pilot. Later that year, he commanded the Indian Air Force, Exhibition Flight. As part of the celebrations for Independence Day on 15 August 1947, Singh, by then a wing commander and acting group captain, led the first fly-past of RIAF aircraft over the Red Fort in Delhi. He took retirement from his services in 1970 at the age of 50.
In 1971 after his retirement he became Indian Ambassador to Switzerland and Vatican serving concurrently. He was also appointed as the High Commissioner to Kenya from 1974 to 1977. Subsequently, he served as a member of the National Commission for Minorities and The Government of India from 1975 to 1981. He was the Lt. Governor of Delhi from December 1989 to December 1990 and was made Marshal of the Air Force in January 2002.
Arjan Singh’s health declined in his final years. In July 2015, he was 96 years old and was bounded to the wheelchair due to a temporary indisposition, he was among the many dignitaries to lay a wreath at the base of the coffin carrying the mortal remains of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at Palam Airport. He paid his last respects to President Kalam at Palam Airport on 28 July. He remained active even at 98, continuing to take tea and to play golf twice a week at the Delhi Golf Club.
Arjan suffered experienced a massive cardiac arrest at his New Delhi residence in the early morning of 16 September 2017 and was rushed to the Army Hospital, Research, and Referral, in New Delhi, where his condition was stated to be critical. And took his last breath at 7:47 pm. His body was taken to his residence 7A Kautilya Marg in New Delhi, where numerous visitors and dignitaries offered their respects, including President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three service chiefs of the Indian Armed Forces. He is an inspiration for the youth and the entire nation. May his soul rest in peace.

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