The 1962 Chinese aggression had triggered a wave of patriotic fervor all over the country. We were then students of National High School in Basavanagudi Bangalore. Our school proudly boasted a junior division NCC naval Wing. We all desired to be part of this elite group. We enjoyed being in the NCC and looked forward to the Sunday parade and classes. The war had upped the tempo, which meant more starch to our uniform, boots polished to mirror finish, arms swinging all the way front and back and rapt attention in the naval history class.
The NCC naval unit of the school was managed by Mr. SN Murthy our chemistry teacher. As an NCC officer he took a lot of interest and was extremely dedicated. He was solely responsible for running a very smart and taut outfit. The NCC unit brought many laurels to the school. Annual camps were another great attraction. The camps gave us an opportunity to be on our own, travel, meet new people and above all it opened an avenue for adventure. We grew up and became adults in these camps and it taught us many lessons of life. I still remember the daily bath in a stream close to the camp in Karkala near Mangalore - on an off day we went out to sea in a fisherman’s boat - a truly exhilarating experience. The camps took us to Channapatna, Goa and Nainital where I met Girish and we kept in touch for a number of years. He used to religiously send fruits every year, all the way from Naini to Bangalore. On the way back from Naini, Subash Chandra, Janardhan Reddy and self broke journey in Delhi and went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.
The influence of NCC did not wash off and after college few of us joined the navy in mid 60s.
It’s almost 50 years since then. Sunder has retired from the navy as a Rear Admiral and was decorated with ‘Nao Sena Medal’ in the 1971 Indo Pak war. Krishna Prasad has also retired and sports a big salt and pepper beard and settled down in Kamannahalli. He was decorated with a ‘Vishista Seva Medal’ for his meritorious service. Vijendra, Vijay Gopal and Surendra have also retired. Vijay unfortunately passed away while in service.
BG Vasuki was a young Sub Lieutenant smart and an efficient naval officer. He was the second in command of a Patrol Vessel INS Ajit. The ship sailed from Port Blair in April 1971. During the passage, the ship encountered a very severe storm and extremely rough sea. Being a small vessel the crew found it exceedingly difficult to counter the ravaging storm. In the ensuing battle against nature the ship was mercilessly thrown about in the open sea which resulted in flooding. The crew battled bravely to keep the ship afloat. In spite of all efforts the ship sank in the Bay of Bengal taking away our very own ‘Dear Vasuki ’.Some of the survivors later on told me that BG being a good swimmer had given his own life jacket to a sailor. The courage required to make such a magnanimous gesture, especially when facing certain death is an act of supreme sacrifice and highest bravery. BG was an ‘Officer and a Gentleman’ in the true sense. May his soul rest in peace.
I had the opportunity to meet BG in Port Blair in Feb 1971 along with Vijay Gopal. We had a lovely evening reminiscencing.
For a school so far away from the sea to have produced so many Nelsons is really a proud achievement.
The credit of popularizing the navy in the school certainly goes to Mr. SN Murthy.