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1971 War Hero Commodore Gopal Rao, no more

Chennai: India’s 1971 Bangladesh-liberation war hero and veteran Commodore Gopal Rao, aged 94, breathed his last on Sunday (August 8), in Chennai. The decorated Naval officer, a recipient of the Mahavir Chakra (MVC) and the Veer Sena Medal(VSM) played a crucial role in the war that was fought 50 years ago. The ceremonial last rites are expected to be performed in the city, by Monday evening.

Then a Commander, Kasargod Patnashetti Gopal Rao was a part of Operation 1971 Cactus Lily, which a small task group of Indian Navy’s Western fleet carried out. It was an offensive operation off the Coast of Karachi, Pakistan, on the night of December 4th. In the face of air, surface, and submarine attack from the enemy, he led his task group deep into enemy waters.

At great risk to Indian ships and personnel that were facing heavy gunfire from enemy destroyers, he led his flotilla to carry a determined attack, which led to the sinking of two Pakistani Destroyers and a Minesweeper. In addition to the sinking of enemy Naval assets, Commander Rao also conducted bombardment of the Karachi port, setting fire to oil and other installations.

Displaying the true spirit of the Forces, Rao had taken part in the 1971 War Victory celebrations that were held in the city, despite being wheelchair-bound. In a stunning Military ceremony, the Navy War Veteran and many other heroes of the 1971 War were felicitated by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit and General-Officer-Commanding Dakshin Bharat Area Lt Gen A. Arun on July 22nd. The event was meant to honor the 1971 War Victory and the sacrifices of the Forces and their families.