Rarely do we come across COMMISSIONED OFFICERS in the Indian Armed Forces from amongst US, though we have scarcely countable Junior commissioned officers, and non commissioned officers, and a few Navy men, Airmen army men.
Getting into the Indian Armed Forces as a Commissioned officer is a tough task indeed, with grueling and exacting Physical examinations, Psychological tests, Written examinations and Group discussions to be undergone and cleared.
To go up in the steep and pyramidal ladder of ranks after joining the commissioned ranks is still more difficult and an achievement by itself as it is acutely competed, with an imposition of a stiff demand of high physical fitness, and absolute necessity to maintain an impressive personal dossier.
Getting into good slots of postings is indeed is a blessing as many stations of postings are in the borders, with extreme climates and removed far far away from facilities for interaction with , families and friends.
But GROUP CAPTAIN G.U. DHANARAJ forty years ago, with no military ancestory, but only with his experience of an Under officer-ship in NATIONAL CADET CORPS in ST, XAVIERS COLLEGE PALAYANCOTTAI where he was a student in B.Sc, and later as an officer in the National cadet corps while he served in Loyola college as a demonstrator in Zoology, made it into the INDIAN AIRFORCE, as a pilot officer, and rose up to the rank of GROUP CAPTAIN.
He rose up by six positions. Pilot officer, Flying officer, Flight lieutenant, Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, Group Captain.
He was commissioned into the Administrative branch, in 1964, and was posted in some of the important air stations. His first posting was in LEH in the Air traffic control where as a solitary air controller he managed the air traffic at a very young age. Leh, incidentally is a high altitude spot—11000 feet above MSL– and is known for its cold.
He has served in the two wars with Pakistan, and had been in the thick of action both in Western as well as in the Eastern sectors. Later in life he was posted in DELHI in the air head quarters from 1980 to 1987-and was popular with all the air chiefs. His final posting was at Bangalore and he retired from service in September, 1993.
Recognising his distinguished service of exceptional order, the President of India awarded the Vishist Seva Medal on 26<sup>th</sup> January 1985.
On his retirement, he ran one of the largest petrol stations of BPCL very successfully in the outskirts of Chennai, and got busy in the fledgling Parish of Nesapakkam – ST.ANNE. He was the President of the Parish committee and participated in the Synod conducted by the Arch bishop of Chennai. He was responsible for many developmental activities in the church.
He was very much concerned about the youth in his home town– PETTAI –PALAYANCOTTAI. He co founded SHINE –SHARING HEARTS TO IGNITE NATIVE EXCELLENCE on 13 th June 2004 –on the feast day of St. Antony , with the objective of providing tuition facilities, subsidised education ,etc.
He was an ardent devotee of Mother Mary and was mainly responsible for the Grotto at St. Anne at NESAPAKKAM. He passed into eternity on the day the grotto was blessed – 26th may 2012.
I got to know Group captain DHANARAJ in the year 1987, when I was posted in New Delhi, in the Cabinet Secretariat,. On the day of my arrival at Palam air port, though he had not known me before, he was kind enough to personally come to the airport and receive me, and put me at ease in Tamilnadu House.
The Delhi climate was harsh on me with its excessive heat and I suffered very bad bleeding nose in my early days and I remember very well he took me to the Airforce doctor to look after me.
He and his wife invariably picked me up for the Sunday mass and thereafter to his quarters for a relaxing gossip, a sumptuous breakfast lunch and rest. Both Group Captain Dhanaraj and Mrs. Dhanaraj allayed my home sickness. Many evenings he had taken me to the DSOI and his usual banter then, seeing many youngsters from elsewhere in the country enjoying the facilities afforded by the club , would be centered on “ why our youngsters are not moving out and see the world.’’ He used to express his anguish to me why our youngsters are not aspiring to get into higher services in the government and in the Army, Airforce, and Navy and develop themselves.
He made it a point to invite me to all the air force functions as long as I was in NewDelhi and was very proud of me. I distinctly remember the airforce show he took me, my wife and young son then when a mirage crashed as it was doing its maneuver.
GROUP CAPTAIN DHANARAJ was a gentleman to the core and had innumerable friends, and many of them among from clergy. His two sons and daughter are doing well.
GROUP CAPTAIN DHANARAJ’S memorial service at ST. ANNE, Nesapakkam Chennai was well attended—THE CHURCH WAS FULL, AND THE CHOIR WAS EXCELLENT AND THE SERVICE WAS BEAUTIFUL signifying the good and amiable manner he lived his life.
Starting at Pettai and reaching where he reached in service, the Air Headquarters, NEW DELHI, is a rare achievement and one wishes many of our youngsters take him as a model and join services.
Knowing him as I do, I am sure he will be very happy then.
(The biographic materials were given by his sons, Mr.Merwin and Mr.Christopher Vinodh)