War veteran of 1962, 1971 passes away

LT Col Pratap Sohanrao Gaikwad, 76, a veteran of the 1962 Sino-India War and the 1971 war of Liberation of Bangladesh, passed away after a cardiac arrest on Tuesday. Gaikwad was a second generation officer of the Indian Army. His father Sohanrao Gaikwad was the most decorated Indian officer in the British Indian Army from Pune district having been bestowed with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the meritorious service medal along with the Bahadur and a Sanad presented by the then governor of Mumbai presidency.

Pratap, an alumnus of King Georges Military School, Belgaum, was commissioned into the 16 Kumaon regiment and was later deputed to 12 Jammu and Kashmir Militia. Talking to The Indian Express, Uday Gaikwad, son of Lt Col Pratap Gaikwad, said, "He participated in the 1962 action along the Nathu La and also took part in the 1971 operations in War of Liberation of Bangladesh in the northern sector. In fact, as children, we grew up listening to his stories of bravery and were highly inspired by his integrity."

Interestingly, Gaikwad's son Col Vikram Gaikwad is commissioned in the same regiment as his father's. Vatsala Gaikwad, Lt Col Pratap Gaikwad's wife remembers him as the officer who went out of the way to help soldiers. "He was someone who enjoyed the company of soldiers. I hardly remember an occasion when he was invited to an Army function and he did not attend. He was a true soldier who would always say that he would want to be reborn as a soldier," said Vatsala Gaikwad.

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