The Ultimate Sacrifice

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Rakesh Chauhan Named as One of Five British Pilots Killed

Tributes have been paid to an RAF hero named in last week’s helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Birmingham born Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, an intelligence officer, was named as one of the five British personnel that died when the Lynx helicopter they were travelling in came down in Kandahar province.

Known as Rak to his friends, the young pilot died alongside fellow Intelligence Corps non-commissioned officer Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters from the Army Air Corps.

Lieutenant Chauhan’s family described him as a dedicated and patriotic solider that died doing what he loved. Based in Leicester and paying tribute, his father, Kishor Chauhan, 61, spoke proudly about his son. “The air force has been my son’s passion since he was 11. He was at King Edward High School in Birmingham and he was part of the RAF air cadets since his first year there. He excelled in the cadets and won the highest award – cadet of the year – in his final year.”  “He even picked St Andrew’s University in Scotland, where he took a four year Scottish Masters degree in International Relations, partly because it was near RAF Leuchars.”

“Before joining the RAF he carried out his own three-month personal fitness programme to make sure he passed the fitness test.” “He was passionate that he and those serving under him should be as fit as possible.”

“One Christmas he volunteered to do the duty of a colleague whose mother had died so he could be with his family. “He was selfless.” “He was happy doing what he did, he loved it, and I took comfort from seeing him happy in what he was doing, although it was often dangerous work which he didn’t speak about. He was good at what he did. He would talk generally about life in Afghanistan, but never the day-to-day involvement.”

“He was very patriotic about Britain, for which he made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“We are very proud of him. He was our son and until now we have had to keep everything very low key. He was an extremely fit man who took pride in fighting for his country – it was very important to him. He lived a life and a half, packing more into his almost 30 years than most people do in 60.”

“He was on his third tour of Afghanistan, and when he was away we were very concerned every time he left. And because he was an intelligence officer he never went out with lots of other servicemen. He went on his own and came back on his own.”

“He told us he was better looked after over there than he was in the UK and said there was nothing to worry about.”

His brother, Kesh, 31, also paid tribute to him. “He joined the East of Scotland Universities Air Squadron where he was commissioned before going to RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire for officer training. When he passed out it was a very proud moment for our family.”

“He was commissioned as a Flying Officer in the Intelligence Corps and served three tours in Afghanistan. We are extremely proud of what he did, he was extremely well regarded within the RAF and was a member of the RAF ski-ing team.

 


“He was an adventurer who travelled most of the world apart from Africa. He went on expeditions in Peru and hiked in the far East, including Howlong Bay in Vietnam. He also toured the USA. Recently he went to Spain to climb mountains. He enjoyed his adventures and was more of a backpacker than a hotel guest. He was a very stubborn person, very outgoing and very charming, he was very straight and didn’t brook nonsense. Those characteristics made him a good officer and leader of men. When he walked into a room, people took notice of him.”

His Commanding Officer paid the following tribute. “Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan was a hugely influential and well respected officer whose enthusiasm and professionalism permeated every aspect of his work. Charming, funny and sharp as a tack, he was immensely proud of his role and of his service. An exceptional officer, he clearly had a bright future ahead of him. His loss has devastated the Station and our thoughts and prayers are very much with his family and friends.”

Over the weekend, services were held across Leicester to honour the memory of Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country.


 

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