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Indian Military Doc Who Helped Deal with 200000 Troopers in The Korean Warfare

(Pictures above of Lt. Col Dr. Arcot G Rangaraj on the Left and a soldier of the sixtieth Parachute Area Ambulance Unit treating a wounded soldier through the Korean Warfare on the Proper courtesy the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, South Korea)

In July 2020, Lieutenant Colonel Dr Arcot G Rangaraj, a health care provider from the Indian Military and the primary Indian paratrooper (alongside Havildar Main Mathura Singh), was posthumously served with a novel distinction by the South Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

Dr Rangaraj was commemorated as “Hero of the Month” for main a medical mission to the Korean peninsula through the Korean Warfare, which raged from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. He led the sixtieth Parachute Area Ambulance unit, which handled about 2,00,000 circumstances, carried out 2,3000 surgical procedures and saved numerous lives below hazardous circumstances. His pictures have been displayed prominently throughout faculties in South Korea the place his heroics have been recounted. 

Following his tenure within the Indian Military, he went on to work with the World Well being Group (WHO), and performed a pivotal function in eradicating smallpox in Afghanistan.  

Serving with distinction

Born in 1917, Rangaraj studied drugs on the Madras Medical School earlier than enlisting within the Indian Medical Service (a part of erstwhile British Indian Military) in 1941. 

It was on the Air Touchdown Faculty in Willingdon (now Safdarjung) Airport, New Delhi, the place he did his para coaching together with Havildar Main Mathura Singh, and went on to function a medical officer within the Indian para battalion. 

Throughout World Warfare II, he served on the Manipur entrance, when the Japanese invaded Burma and Northeast India, therapeutic wounded combatants and saving lives.     

Following World Warfare II, Independence, and dismantling of the Indian Medical Service, he was promoted to move the sixtieth Parachute Area Ambulance unit of the Indian Military. Later, from 1948-49, the unit would additionally serve with distinction in Kashmir, the place it raised and maintained the well-known ‘Cariappa Hospital’, which served the wants of military items in its neighborhood regardless of consistently dealing with useful resource shortages and inclement climate situations. 

Nevertheless, Dr Rangaraj didn’t have a lot time for resting on his laurels, as a result of one other battle had damaged out greater than 5,000 km away within the Korean peninsula. 

India’s intervention

Divided after World Warfare II, the Korean peninsula had change into a flashpoint within the Chilly Warfare between the USSR and the USA. Management from North and South Korea claimed sovereignty over your entire peninsula. 

Warfare quickly broke out when North Korea invaded their neighbours within the South. Given the local weather of the Chilly Warfare, South Korea was given help by a Western alliance led by the US below a decision handed within the United Nations (UN). In the meantime, North Korea had help from the Chinese language Folks’s Volunteers, which in flip obtained assist from the USSR.    

Newly-independent India, in the meantime, was standing proper within the entrance of the road to resolve this battle with then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru actively concerned in negotiating peace by participating all the key stakeholders — US, USSR and China. 

“From the outbreak of hostilities to the cease-fire three years later, Jawaharlal Nehru, the near-exclusive voice in Indian overseas coverage as each prime minister and minister for exterior affairs, was decided to forestall the UN from adopting a coverage which may result in the battle’s prolongation or escalation,” scholar and writer Robert Barnes wrote in a 2013 article for The Journal of Korean Research, printed by the Duke College Press

“Nehru subsequently sought to make use of India’s appreciable affect to reconcile the 2 Chilly Warfare blocs’ broadly divergent positions on Korea and restore world peace,” he added. 

Regardless of Nehru’s place on non-alignment, India supported two UN Safety Council Resolutions of 25 and 27 June 1950 that named North Korea because the aggressor. Trygve Lie, the then secretary normal of the UN, requested India to ship troops for peacekeeping operations. 

The request was made below the UN Safety Decision of seven July 1950, which requested member nations to supply army help to repel the aggressor — North Korea. On 31 July 1950, a particular session of the Indian Parliament was known as to debate the Korean battle. 

Throughout this session then president of India Dr Rajendra Prasad advised the Parliament of Nehru’s enchantment — to each Russian dictator Joseph Stalin in addition to the US secretary of state Dean Acheson — that they need to use their affect to “localise” the armed battle in Korea. He additionally acknowledged that Nehru’s initiative was solely to strengthen the ‘ethical drive of the UN’, and never condone army aggression.   

In following up with the UN’s request for army help from member states, India agreed to ship a medical unit — the sixtieth Parachute Area Ambulance unit. Led by Dr Rangaraj, the unit consisted of about 346 males, together with 4 surgeons, two anaesthesiologists, and a dentist.  

Dr AG Rangaraj helped treat wounded soldiers of the Korean War, which was brutal for the residents of the peninsula.
Along with her brother on her again, a war-weary Korean woman trudges by a stalled M-26 tank, at Haengju, Korea, in 1951 (Picture courtesy Manhhai/Flickr)

Therapeutic by way of hell

The unit was transported by ship on the finish of October 1950 from Bombay (Mumbai) and arrived in Busan, South Korea, a couple of fortnight later. At this juncture, the armed battle had change into very intense, with the North Koreans and their Chinese language assist system main a counterattack towards the South and their Western allies. 

“Inside hours of their arrival, the Indian Medical Mission supplied medical cowl to the twenty seventh Commonwealth British Brigade, with whom they remained connected all through the marketing campaign,” Colonel DPK Pillay wrote in a paper for the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Research and Analyses. 

These early days have been notably bushy for the sixtieth Parachute Area Ambulance unit.

Throughout one occasion, when the Chinese language troops had damaged previous UN strains following a counteroffensive, the medical unit was in severe hazard of dropping their important tools.  

“The sixtieth had no transport allotted for his or her hasty withdrawal and have been reluctant to desert their first-class medical tools and provides,” Pillay wrote. 

Even Rangaraj stated in a while, “We might have been of little use with out [our equipment] and couldn’t afford to lose it as quickly as we arrived.” 

Thankfully, they’d discover an unused prepare with its engine, kind a ‘Human Bucket Brigade’ from the Han River, and get the steam engine operating to cross the Han River bridge earlier than Chinese language communist forces blew up the bridge. 

The unit would additionally construct momentary amenities close to websites the place pitched battles have been being fought within the brutal winter of 1950-51 to deal with the wounded. 

“The Indian medics caught with the troops they have been treating through the horrific rear-guard preventing that winter,” wrote Dan Bjarnson, writer of the e book Triumph at Kapyong, Canada’s Pivotal Battle in Korea

“3 times in three days, they arrange after which closed down their dressing stations as they tried to seek out security, refusing to desert the wounded,” he added. 

Rangaraj’s most daring feat, nonetheless, would are available in March 1951, when his unit participated in Operation Tomahawk. Conceived by the US forces, this was an air marketing campaign staged to entice communist forces north of Seoul between the Han and Imjin rivers. 

He was amongst 12 Indian officers who volunteered to “bounce into the contact zone” with over 3,400 American infantry troopers. 

As Pillay wrote, “The purpose of this particular army operation was to disrupt the enemy’s strains of communication, throw them into disarray, and subsequently neutralise and decimate them with the bottom link-up, which was anticipated on March 25, 1951.”

Nevertheless, this operation didn’t go as deliberate. 

The link-up by no means occurred and resistance from Chinese language and North Koreans solely elevated. Battling bone-chilling winds, snow, and minimal provisions besides tea and biscuits, the Indian medical officers carried out their duties effectively.   

Straight quoting a US commander, Bjarnson wrote, “I used to be instantly struck by the [Indians’] effectivity. That small unit, tailored for an airborne function, has carried out 103 operations. Which is sort of excellent for that sort of unit…most likely 50 of these operated [on] owed their lives to these males.” 

This was a really outstanding feat, however not the very last thing they’d do. 

The Indian medical unit would additionally run 4 hospitals, together with the primary Republic of Korea Military Hospital, the place they skilled native nurses and docs. For his or her unbelievable service, they earned the moniker “Angels in Maroon Berets”. 

Rangaraj and his unit would go on to serve properly previous the ceasefire in July 1953. They served for about 39 months in faraway land until February 1954. 

Lieutenant Colonel Dr. AG Rangaraj led the Indian Army's 60 Para Field Ambulance Unit during the Korean War.
An Indian officer of the 60 Para Area Ambulance Unit treats sufferers through the Korean Warfare. (Picture courtesy of the Warfare Memorial of Korea)

Recognition and extra 

Dr Rangaraj and three of his unit members have been awarded the Chungmu Distinguished Navy Service (Meritorious) Award, the third highest award of the Korean army for distinguished service. 

Again residence, he was amongst two officers awarded with a Maha Vir Chakra. In whole, the unit would obtain six Vir Chakras, apart from particular army honours from america and the United Nations. Rangaraj would finally retire from army service in 1966. 

In the meantime, he earned a diploma in Public Well being from Osmania College in 1961 and accomplished a certificates course in epidemiology from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, in 1967. 

Following retirement from army service, he obtained concerned in world smallpox eradication programmes. He served in world companies like UNICEF, WHO and United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Worldwide Well being for Migration.  

Appointed because the senior WHO adviser on smallpox eradication in Afghanistan in 1969, he would — alongside Dr Abdul Mohammad Darmanger, director of the Afghani smallpox eradication programme — play a pivotal function in eradicating this lethal illness on this war-torn area. They organised “Afghanistan’s first, and extremely efficient, nation-wide well being programme”.

“In 1974, Dr Rangaraj went to Bangladesh to coordinate discipline operations. He additionally served with the smallpox eradication programmes within the Arabian peninsula,” notes Goal Zero archives. 

Even these answerable for the eradication of smallpox in Bangladesh credit score him for consistently encouraging and galvanizing them when issues didn’t look good. 

“I by no means thought you had an opportunity in hell of successful; I had, nonetheless, discovered throughout World Warfare II in Burma that optimism was important to survival through the worst of instances,” he apparently advised the authors of this 2011 paper printed in Vaccine

“Thus, it was his army coaching, reasonably than goal evaluation of the information, that stored us going through the tough instances of 1975. Optimism is important for eradication packages to succeed,” the authors wrote.

Rangaraj handed away on 23 March 2009 on the ripe outdated age of 92, however not earlier than abandoning a unprecedented legacy of service. 

(Edited by Divya Sethu)

‘In opposition to All Odds: The Forgotten Tales of Unbiased India’s Tryst with Peacekeeping’ by Colonel (Physician) DPK Pillay; Printed courtesy Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping and Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Research and Analyses
Historical past At the moment in Medication- Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Arcot G. Rangaraj courtesy CMIE India
‘Smallpox Eradication in Bangladesh, 1972–19761’; Printed on December 2011 courtesy Vaccine/Nationwide Library of Medication and Nationwide Middle for Biotechnology Info
‘Indian Military officer named month-to-month battle hero’ by Kang Seung-woo; Printed courtesy The Korea Instances
‘Indian medical unit throughout Korean Warfare revisited’ by Kwon Mee-yoo; Printed on 2022-03-14 courtesy The Korea Instances
‘The MASH Heros You’ve By no means Heard Of’ by Dan Bjarnason; Printed on 12 June 2012 courtesy Kapyong Korea and ‘Triumph at Kapyong, Canada’s Pivotal Battle in Korea’
‘An Indian military medical unit’s ‘selfless sacrifice’ saved numerous lives within the Korean Warfare’ by Ajay Kamalakaran; Printed on 12 April 2022 courtesy Scroll.in
Goal Zero: Smallpox Eradication Archives
‘Between the Blocs: India, the United Nations, and Ending the Korean Warfare’ by Robert Barnes; Printed in 2013 courtesy The Journal of Korean Research and JSTOR



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