Cdr. Dhanush Menon

Cdr Dhanush Menon was deputed to Belagavi, Karnataka as the Naval Detachment Commander wef 08 Aug 19 for ‘Op Varsha Rahat’. Based on the information of two aged men being stranded atop a tree in the village of Haloli, one AU 704 (ALH) was airborne at 0730 h on 09 Aug 19. The information was however partial with an indicative area for search and a tin shed as an identifying feature somewhere near the tree. As Captain of the Aircraft, the officer undertook the highly challenging SAR mission on 09 Aug 19, in low visibility, torrential rain and amidst dangerous obstructions. The rescue site was completely inundated and in dangerous proximity (5 metres) to a high power transmission line and its pylons. The survivors had been stranded bereft of food and water for three days and were so exhausted that they were in no position to even approach the rescue basket by themselves. With turbulent river obviating chances of rescue by boat, air rescue was the only option to save the elders from the jaws of almost certain death. A standard rescue procedure with hover into wind would entail the tail rotor into high tension cables and out of sight of pilot. Rescue could be affected only by a cross wind hover which heavily degraded helicopter controllability and power margins. Isolated passing showers that rendered almost nil visibility and gusting winds of 25 knots only compounded the problems. With lives at stake, the Officer commenced rescue displaying selflessness and extra ordinary courage in face of clear and absolute danger. Standard hover height of 175 ft in gusting cross winds resulted in uncontrollable swing in the rescue basket rendering winching impossible. The Officer took the extremely dangerous decision to reduce hover height to 125 ft displaying courage and exceptional skill to maintain the aircraft at hover for 25 minutes only 15 feet clear of the hazardous obstructions and saving the lives of two souls in distress. Lowering the rescue basket at the tight spot (between the dangers of transmission tower, roof of the shed and the tree) called for exemplary situation awareness and alacrity for a precise rescue.  For his selfless actions in dire circumstances, Cdr Dhanush Menon (05556 A) has been awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).