HAWS recovers bodies of fallen soldiers from the mountains

Mountaineers from the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) were on a mission in Ladakh aiming to bring back the bodies of three Havildar instructors who died in October 2023 while climbing Mount Kun.

| Updated: 10 July, 2024 4:10 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Mountaineers from the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) were on a mission in Ladakh aiming to bring back the bodies of three Havildar instructors who died in October 2023 while climbing Mount Kun.

This mission, called Operation RTG (Rohit, Thakur, Gautam), started on June 18, 2024. The team includes 88 skilled mountaineers who have special gear and two helicopters on standby to help them.

Brigadier SS Shekhawat, Deputy Commandant of HAWS and a seasoned mountaineer with multiple ascents of Mount Everest to his name has recently described Operation RTG as the most arduous mission of his illustrious career. The operation, which unfolded at a staggering altitude of 18,700 feet, tested the limits of physical endurance and mental fortitude for him and his team.

 

“Dug for nine days straight, 10-12 hours every day,” Brigadier Shekhawat recounted, reflecting on the relentless effort required to unearth and retrieve comrades buried under tons of snow and ice. The mission, he emphasized, was not only physically demanding but also emotionally taxing, resonating deeply with the challenges faced by the entire team.

“It has been the toughest mission of my life, physically, mentally, and emotionally,” he affirmed. Despite these hardships, Brigadier Shekhawat expressed a profound sense of fulfilment in successfully bringing closure to the families of their fallen comrades.

The operation RTG held special significance as it ensured that the soldiers received dignified last rites. “Rohit has been cremated with full military honours. Thakur and Gautam are being sent to their kin, where they will receive befitting last rites,” Brigadier Shekhawat noted with reverence, underscoring the solemn commitment of the HAWS team to honour their fallen brothers-in-arms.

 

The Himalayan terrain and extreme weather conditions added layers of complexity to Operation RTG. Brigadier Shekhawat’s reflections highlight the unwavering spirit of service and sacrifice that defines their ethos.

As the operation concludes, Brigadier Shekhawat’s words serve as a tribute to the bravery and camaraderie exhibited by all involved.

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