Squadron Leader Ajjamada Boppayya Devayya MVC is the only officer in the Indian Air Force to have received the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously (MVC). The Maha Vir Chakra is the second highest honour for military valour, after only the Param Vir Chakra. During the 1965 India-Pakistan War, Sqn Ldr A B Devayya (nicknamed ‘Wings of Fire’) was hit by an enemy aircraft while on a strike mission (on the Pakistani airfield Sargodha). He shot down the opposing pursuer’s jet, but his aircraft was damaged in the process, and he went missing. He almost certainly perished on Pakistani soil. He was posthumously awarded the MVC for this accomplishment during the 1965 battle 23 years later, in 1988.
Sargodha Air Attack: 07 Sep 1965
Against September 7, 1965, the IAF prepared an air strike on the PAF’s Sargodha air base to neutralise its aviation assets. Sqn Ldr Devayya was on the air attack operation against Pakistan’s Sargodha airport. He entered the air combat despite being a standby in case one of the initial 12 planes failed. An adversary F-104 Starfighter piloted by Flt Lt Amjad Hussain intercepted Sqn Ldr Devayya. Sqn Ldr Devayya was a skilled pilot and teacher. Sqn Ldr Devayya dodged the Starfighter’s assaults, but the enemy aircraft came up to him and damaged his jet with its machine guns.
Sqn Ldr Ajjamada Boppayya Devayya engaged the opposing Star-fighter and severely destroyed it while flying a crippled aircraft. The Starfighter lost control and crashed, ejecting its pilot Flt Lt Hussain. Sqn Ldr Devayya’s fate was unknown as his plane fell within enemy territory. The IAF learned of Sqn Ldr Devayya’s posthumous honour via the writings of British writer John Fricker, who was hired by Pakistan to write about the battle. As the first posthumous “Maha Vir Chakra” recipient, Since 1947, 21 IAF soldiers (including two Canberra pilots, Wg Cdr Jag Mohan Nath and late Wg Cdr Padmanabha Gautham, who got the Maha Vir Chakra bar) have received the “Maha Vir Chakra”.
Mrs Devayya accepted her husband’s Maha Vir Chakra in 1988, nearly 23 years after the conflict.
Maha Vir Chakra
Squadron Leader Ajjamada Bopayya Devayya (4810) flew as a member of a strike formation that was assigned the task of attacking the heavily defended Sargodha airfield at 0555 hrs on 07 Sep 65. All members of the mission except for Squadron Leader Devayya returned safely to base.
Having accomplished a successful raid over Sargodha airfield at the appointed time, the Mystere aircraft piloted by Squadron Leader Devayya was intercepted by a supersonic F-104 Star-Fighter, which fired Sidewinder missile. Squadron Leader Devayya successfully evaded and the missile hit the ground. However, by virtue of its faster acceleration, the F-104 rapidly closed in on the Mystere, fired a burst of its 20 mm multi-barrel canon and succeeded in damaging Squadron Leader Devayya’s Mystere. The F-104 went ahead of the Mystere due to its higher speed. Undaunted and with utter disregard for his personal safety, Squadron Leader Devayya flew his damaged Mystere in pursuit after the F-104. Maneuvering a damaged aircraft, he finally shot down the F-104. In electing to get into an aerial combat with the F-104 even though his own aircraft was damaged, Squadron Leader Devayya displayed valor of very high order and thereafter followed it up with a display of exceptional flying skill by shooting down an aircraft.
For this exceptional act of conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy and the fighting spirit displayed under overwhelming odds and at the cost of his own life, Squadron Leader Ajjamada Bopayya Devayya is awarded Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.