It was the dreaded night of December 4, 1971. It was during the pitch darkness of 12.30am. I feared a war, not because the Indian Air Force wasn't prepared, but I hated to see drops of red. They say a true soldier waits for the day to fight in a war. Being a Wing Commander in the Indian Air Force, I always thought of that day, but it engulfed my mind with darkness. I had never told this to anybody; I feared. My eyes almost drifted into a sleep when our Commander sounded the war alarm hooter; Pakistan Army had launched an attack across the Longewala border along Rajasthan with 2800 soldiers. Indian Army, with only 120 soldiers along the line of control, sent an immediate call to the Air Force. I feared, my dream had come true. It was just like I thought; it was pitch darkness outside. We readied in our emergency response reconnaissance team in 15 minutes. My flying machine was a HAL-24 Marut; a bird I always loved right from my pilot training days.
We took off from the tarmac at Jaisalmer base, I could feel the machine vibrate at take off speed; my mind feared the worst. I remembered again that it was pitch darkness; I panicked, but we fighter pilots are taught to be in a controlled form of nervousness. We didn't have the benefit of night vision infrared; we never entered the battle region until permit was granted from the ground team. It followed some of my most feared moments of terror as a pilot; I never know if I cherish these or fear these today. We entered Longewala region after we received control clearance. My commander instructed the formation over the transmission line, I checked up on the horizon.