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No. 07 Helicopter Squadron Celebrates 16 Remarkable Years

Published on: 2010-09-28 09:15:57
No. 07 Helicopter Squadron Celebrates 16 Remarkable Years
Rendering an indispensable service since the day of its inception, the valiant No. 07 Transport Helicopter Squadron of SLAF Base Hingurakgoda recently celebrated its 16th anniversary on 14 September, 2010 with a shramadhana campaign and an alms giving.
 
The Squadron’s anniversary is celebrated with lighter hearts and spirit this year, with a focus on social responsibility entrusted to its care, after shouldering an immense workload during the Humanitarian Operations.

The main social responsibility project launched by the Squadron took place at “Minihiri Kantha Surekum Madhyasthanaya” a home for women with special needs at Boralukanda, Hingurakgoda where a shramadhana campaign was carried our subsequent to the working parade. The campaign was aimed at clearing the area surrounding the enclosure of the home and mending its barbed wire fence. Preceding the campaign, an alms giving was also held by the Squadron as part of its anniversary celebrations.

 
History
 
The Squadron which was established in 1994 at the same premises was initially named as the No. 401 Squadron. Its main task at the time was to facilitate operational requirements in the Northern and Eastern sectors based on the directives given by No. 04 Wing at SLAF Base, Katunayaka regarding VIP/VVIP needs.
 
On 23 March, 1996 the Squadron was renamed as : No. 07 Helicopter Squadron, renowned for its successful flying operations. Presently the home base of the Squadron still remains at SLAF Base Hingurakgoda, but the Squadron also maintains two main attachments at SLAF Unit Palaly and SLAF Base Anuradhapura.
 
In its initial stage the team was equipped with only a single Bell 206 Jet Ranger. But subsequently it expanded to a fleet of five Bell 206 and ten Bell 212 helicopters and a team of 26 officers and 121 airmen as its strength. The first Commanding officer of this illustrious Squadron was Squadron Leader KVB Jayampath. At present it is commanded by Wing Commander WRMP Jayawardhane, one of its pioneering members.
 
Despite being in existence for a relatively short duration, the service and achievements rendered by the Squadron to safeguard the motherland increased by leaps and bounds during the escalation of LTTE hostilities. During the humanitarian operations the Squadron maintained attachments at various locations to meet operational requirements of the Security Forces. They were namely: SLAF Unit Palaly, SLAF Base Anuradhapura, SLAF Base China Bay, SLAF Unit Palavi, SLAF Base Vavuniya and SL Army Headquarters in Thalladi.
 
Contribution towards the Humanitarian Operation

The No. 07 Transport Helicopter Squadron played a major role in the security operations since the beginning of the separatist war. Its rotary aircraft played a vital role in successfully annihilating enemy strongholds using Bell 206 Jet Rangers and Bell 212s which were converted to gunships.

They were the cavalry for the infantry who cleared enemy resistance when and where it was needed, swiftly and precisely. At the same time they were the flying ambulances which gave hope for the wounded. During the humanitarian operation alone, 16337 casualties were evacuated (Casevac) by the Squadron. The pilots, engineers, gunners and technicians of the Squadron did a tremendous job, silently serving the nation.

In addition to Casevac and other missions, the Squadron also undertook a series of daring rescue missions behind the enemy lines to rescue Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) teams which were operating deep in the enemy territory.

The first rescue mission was to evacuate a Commando LRRP team from the northern region of Vavuniya on 22 November, 2001. The Bell 212 which flew from its home Base was Captained by Flight Lieutenant  Sudam Kaluarchchi with Flight Lieutenant PAV Samantha as his Co Pilot.

Coming after a lapse of six years, the second special rescue mission to evacuate LRRP members was launched on 02 July, 2007  in the Northern Wanni region south east of Nedunkerni. The operation which took flight at twelve noon saw Flight Lieutenant KADAC Kuruwita captaining the Bell 212, with Flight Lieutenant SR Jayaratne acting as his co-pilot. The two gunners on the mission  were Corporal Wickramasinghe and Leading Air Craftsman Jayaratne.

Three LRRP members were evacuated by No. 07 Squadron at north east of Mamaduwa on 23 July, 2008 as part of its third special rescue mission. Flight Lieutenant AR Pathirage was the Captain of the Bell 212 aircraft used for this decisive mission while Flight Lieutenant CG Hiripitiya was the Co-pilot. Corporal Dissanayake and Corporal Ratnayake were the two gunners who flew in this mission.

29 July, 2008 saw yet another daring rescue operation taking place to evacuate an LRRP team from the north west of Mankulam. A Bell 212 helicopter was used in this rescue as well and the Captain was  Flight Lieutenant GGCP Gunaratne. Flight Lieutenant AR Pathriage was the co-pilot, while the two gunners on board were Corporal Dissanayake and Corporal Sanjeewa.

The fifth and final LRRP team evacuation  mission came at the tail end of November 2008, on the 27th in the West of Oddusudan. The Bell 212 used for the task was Captained by Squadron Leader NHDN Dias while Flight Lieutenant GGCP Gunaratne was his Co-pilot. The duo Corporal Dissananayke and Corporal Thrisinghe joined this  mission as gunners.

Risking their lives amidst terrorist attacks, the brave pilots and gunners from the No. 07 Squadron were successful in landing the helicopters in LTTE terrain and safely returning with the rescued LRRP teams on all occasions. this Sqaudron has since its inception been the 'first on the scene' at all times not only in war but also in times of natural disaster.The role it played during the devastating Tsunami, the terrible landslides and the many other events of no glory but pain will be etched in the memory of those whome the Squadron carried to safety. During its short but eventful history it lost many a brave crew in valiant missions in support of the men on the field.

They gave their tomorrow for our today,

Squadron Leader Dushantha   Edirisinghe25.11.1997CH561 Puliyankulam
Flight Lieutenant Upul Thennakoon25.11.1997CH561  Puliyankulam
Fight Sergeant Premathilake KVK25.11.1997CH561 Puliyankulam
Sergeant Samaraweera AD25.11.1997CH561 Puliyankulam
Pilot Officer Sivali Munasinghe17.02.2000CH 538 Muhamale, Kodikamum
Corporal Bandara17.02.2000 CH 538 Muhamale, Kodikamum
Corporal Jayalath29.04.1995Avro Crash
Corporal Alwis29.04.1995Avro Crash
LAC Guanasiri 29.04.1995Avro Crash
Squadron Leader Marlon Thomes15.08.2002Y-8 Crash was in the posted strength during the crash
Wing commander AP Mohotti22.10.2007CH 539 Doramadalawa
Flight Lieutenant ADM De Silva22.10.2007 CH 539 Doramadalawa
Sergeant Prethikumara WAA22.10.2007CH 539 Doramadalawa
Corporal Gunawardhane22.10.2007CH 539 Doramadalawa

Following are the Commanding Officers who served at No. 07 Squadron
No. 401 SQUADRON   
Sqn Ldr KVB Jayampathy                          17.09.199423.03.1996
No. 07 SQUADRON  
Sqn Ldr KVB Jayampatahy                            24.03.199631.05.1996
Wg Cdr KVB Jayampathy                              01.06.199609.01.1998
Sqn Ldr SR Gunaratne                                   10.01.199814.08.1999
Wg Cdr SR Gunaratna                                   15.08.1999 31.05.2001
Sqn Ldr AP Mirando                                      01.06.200105.06.2003
Sqn Ldr HMSKB Kotakadeniya                    06.06.200318.08.2003
Wg Cdr HMSKB Kotakadeniya                    19.08.200314.12.2004
Sqn Ldr AP Mirando                                      15.12.200414.07.2005
Sqn Ldr RP Liyanagamaage                           15.07.200522.10.2006
Wg Cdr RP Liyanagamaage                           23.10.200607.01.2008
Wg Cdr DK Wanigasooriya08.01.200824.03.2009
Sqn Ldr WRMP Jayawardhane                      25.03.200901.07.2009
Wg Cdr WRMP Jayawardhane                     
02.07.2009 to date

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