Today is the first death anniversary of the Indian Air Force’s legend and the first Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh.

Singh was the chief of the Air Force during the critical period between 1964 to 1969 and played an important role in the 1965 war with Pakistan.

He was the first officer in the force to have been elevated to the rank of Air Chief Marshal as prior to 1966, the chief of the Air Force used to be an Air Marshal (equivalent to Lieutenant General in the Army).

Later on he also had the fortune of becoming the first five start-rank officer when he was made the first Marshal of the Indian Air Force (equivalent to Field Marshal in Army) in 2002.

Singh had joined the Royal Air Force during the British times in 1938. He was the first one in his family to have joined the services as an officer. Being an early entry into the Air Force, the Marshal rose very fast in the service and within five years, he became a squadron leader and commanded the No 1 squadron in the second world war in the Arakan campaign in 1944.

For his bravery, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The Marshal then took over the command of the Air Force at the age of 45 and headed the service. While other chiefs held the position for two to three years, Singh’s tenure lasted for five years.

During the 1965 war, when Pakistan was on the back foot and the talks about ceasefire started, the Marshal advised the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, who was under tremendous international pressure, against accepting it.

Pakistan was losing its aircraft at a fast rate and was keen on accepting the ceasefire. However, because of international pressure and other considerations, India agreed to the ceasefire. 

At the age of 96, he paid his last respects to the former President APJ Abdul Kalam at the Palam airport by laying a wreath, while sitting on a wheelchair, on July 28, 2015.

On September 16, 2017, he passed away at the Army Research and Referral Hospital after suffering a heart attack.