Panagarh (WB), April 15: In a first, Panagarh airbase was Friday, April 15 renamed as Air Force Station Arjan Singh after the former Indian Air Force chief.
On the occasion of 97th birthday of Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, renamed the airbase at a simple ceremony here.
"It is a proud moment for the Indian Air Force and the state of West Bengal. He is an icon and a role model. We have to work hard to ensure that the name is suitably looked after in terms of capability and performance," Kumar told reporters. "It is for the first time that we have taken a conscious decision to rename an airbase after an individual."
Panagarh, approximately 150 kms from Kolkata, is located in Burdwan district. The airbase in Panagarh was constructed in 1944 during the Second World War. Coincidentally, around the same time in eastern theatre, a young Commanding Officer of No. 1 Squadron, then Squadron Leader Arjan Singh, was leading the 'Tiger' squadron in saving Imphal Valley against the marauding Japanese forces.
His leadership and daring exploits earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), which was pinned on him by Lord Mountbatten in Imphal during the operations.
Air Force Station, Panagarh, post the Second World War, played a significant role in the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. Singh was the IAF chief from August 1964-69.
He was the first Indian Air Chief to be elevated to the rank of Air Chief Marshal on January 16, 1966. In recognition of his lifelong services, the government conferred the rank of the "Marshal of the Indian Air Force" on Arjan Singh on January 28, 2002 making him the first and the only 'Five Star' rank officer with the Indian Air Force.