Lieutenant General Ved Prakash Airy, MVC (20 March 1935 – 28 December 2007) was an officer of the Indian Army, who served with the 3 Grenadiers. He is best known for his participation in the Battle of Basantar, one of the major battles of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.
Lieutenant General Ved Prakash Airy was born on 20 March 1935 in Karnal District, Haryana. He was the son of Shri Ganga Bishen Airy of Karnal district in Haryana. After his education in Govt. High School and Dyal Singh College, Karnal, he joined National Defence Academy (NDA).
On June 3, 1956, Lieutenant General Ved Prakash Airy graduated from the NDA and was commissioned into 3 Grenadiers.
He commanded the 3rd Grenadiers unit, which was stationed on the western front, near Bhairo Nath and Basantar River in the Shakargarh Sector, to resist Pakistani army onslaught and seize the enemy region. Lieutenant Colonel VP Airy led his soldiers from the front, inspiring and motivating the entire battalion to fight. The unit not only took enemy positions but held them against heavy Pakistani counter-attacks. Convincing his soldiers in the face of enemy bombardment and small weapons fire. He received the Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second highest military honour, for his personal example, outstanding valour, and inspirational leadership. The Battle of Basantar was fought from December 4–16, 1971, in the western sector of the Indo-Pak conflict.
On behalf of the Pakistan Government, Lieutenant Colonel VP Airy presented the Pakistan Army with a citation for Lt Col Mohammed Akram Raja’s courage, which led to the awarding of the Hilal-i-Jurat.
He then became a Lieutenant General before resigning from active duty. He died naturally on December 28, 2007.
Lieutenant Colonel V.P. Airy was commanding battalion of the Grenadiers in the battles of Bhairo Nath and Basantar River in the Shakargarh Sector of the Western Front. He led his battalion with cool courage and was always in the forefront, encouraging and inspiring his men, in the battle of the Basantar river, the battalion under his able leadership not only captured the enemy positions after a fierce fight but held on to them despite massive counter-attacks by the enemy. With utter disregard for his personal safety, under heavy enemy shelling and small arms fire, he went from trench to trench motivating his men. Due to his personal example and bold leadership his battalion remained steadfast and resolute.
Throughout the action, Lieutenant Colonel Ved Prakash Airy displayed conspicuous gallantry, determination and inspiring leadership in keeping with the best traditions of the Army.