USI MacGregor Memorial Medal Presented To Officers From Army and IAF

New Delhi (India), November 10: Air Marshal Jeetendra Mishra, VSM, Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (DOT), presented the prestigious USI MacGregor Memorial Medal to two awardees, one each from Army and IAF, recognising their contribution and outstanding achievements in adventure activities and operational reconnaissance. The demonstrated performance by these soldiers not only benefited respective organisation but also encouraged others to follow. There is no dearth of talent with in the Indian Armed Forces, the challenge lies in harnessing this talent, nurturing it, providing the best facilities, training and exposure; for our own interest. Award ceremony being organised by United Service Institution of India (USI), the oldest tri-service think tank of India, at USI Auditorium on 08 Nov 2023.

MacGregor Memorial Medal was instituted on 03 July 1888 to commemorate the memory of Maj Gen Sir Charles Metcalfe MacGregor, KCB, CSI, CIE, the founder of the United Service Institution of India (Established 1870). Initially this medal was awarded for military reconnaissance and journeys of exploration. After independence, the opportunities for military reconnaissance and exploration became less frequent, thus during 1986 after due consultation with the Service HQs it was decided to add expeditions and adventure activities for the award of this medal. However, military reconnaissance and exploration remain the first priority for awarding the medal to all ranks, serving and retired, of the Indian Armed Forces, TA, Reserve Forces and Assam Rifles.

Highlight of the two awardees for the year 2022 are as follows:

  • Maj Digvijay Thakur, 24 Grenadiers led an Operational Reconnaissance cum Mountaineering Expedition to Mount Takpa Shiri (6655 meters) in Arunachal Himalayas on 29 October 2021. He was the leading rope man and fixed more than 1400 meters of rope to the summit involving steep climbs, ice walls, and crevices. He planned and executed the operation the virgin peak and other previously unchartered areas around Kangto Massif.
  • Wg Cdr Kunal Sharma, 41st Sqn, Airforce

The officer represented Indian Air Force in world’s highest (18,520) and one of the toughest ultra-marathons, the Khardungla Challenge at Leh. He finished it successfully 12 hours and 16 minutes in subzero conditions, clocking the best timing of Air Force Team. 

Air Marshal Jeetendra Mishra, VSM, Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (DOT)

Speaking at the Macgregor Memorial Medal Award ceremony Air Marshal Jeetendra Mishra, VSM, Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (DOT) complimented the USI for its contribution to India’s strategic culture and professional grooming of future military leaders. Lauding the achievements awardees he said all great explorers and adventurers possess two essential traits beyond physical strength: mental strength and discipline. While physical strength often comes naturally in youth, the other two are developed over time.

He also emphasized that ‘humility’ is the quality of paramount importance that propels us to achieve greater heights. It is crucial to understand that one is not in a battle against nature, but rather working in harmony with it.

Few well known personalities who have been awarded this medal in past:

  • Pre 1947 – Capt FE Younghusband (1890)
  • Maj Gen Orde Charles Wingate (Chindit) (1943)
  • Post 1947 – Major Z.C. Bakshi, VrC – Strategic Military Recce (1949)
  • Col Narinder Kumar – Siachen glacier (1978-81)
  • Sqn Ldr Ram Karan Makar & Flt Lt Rana TS Chhina – Helicopter recce in Karakorams (1986)
  • Wg Cdr Rahul Monga & Wg Cdr Anil Kumar – World expedition in a mico light aircraft (2007) 
  • Cdr Dilip Donde – Solo circumnavigation of the globe in yacht (201
  • Lt Cdr Abhilash Tomy – Solo and nonstop circumnavigation of the globe     under sail (2013)

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