Service for the nation courses through the blood of the Gajjars who have given the motherland three generations of officers. Group Captain Subodh Gajjar, his son Lieutenant Colonel Nikhil Gajjar, and grandson Commander Nitin Gajjar have served India’s armed forces.
An episode in 2011 best epitomises the spirit of the family. Young naval officer Nitin Gajjar, who trained in the Helicopter Training School (HTS) in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, wanted to ride a 650cc bike from the southern state all the way to Gujarat.
A senior officer cautioned his father, Nikhil Gajjar, asserting that Nitin’s bike adventure was fraught with risk. Gajjar senior responded saying, “How can I? I too would often ride my bike from one posting to another when I was his age.”
The Times of India that vividly captures this story adds that the worried officer then approached Nitin’s grandfather, Subodh, but failed to get the response he desired.
Group Captain Subodh Gajjar’s father Jamnadas was not an army man, TOI has reported. He was a textile engineer with roots in Dhal ni Pol.
Air Force officers encouraged Subodh, a BHU student with a passion for sport, to pursue a career in military service. After joining the Indian Air Force in 1951, he went on to play crucial roles in the 1965 and 1971 wars. “He was the commanding officer of the 6 Tactical Air Command (TAC) that neutralized enemy targets. For excellent support to the ground forces, he was awarded Mention in Dispatches and presented an artillery shell by the XI Corps commander, Lt Gen Rawlley,” his son Lt Col (veteran) Nikhil Gajjar was quoted as saying.
Nikhil naturally was drawn to it as well; he would observe National Defence Academy (NDA) cadets in Pune during his school and pre-college days.
He changed his career preference. He aspired to join the Air Force but decided to be a para commando like his father. Subsequently, he was inducted into the Maratha Regiment.
An avid mountaineer since his school days, he cleared all the tough courses at High Altitude Warfare School in Gulmarg and qualified for advanced winter warfare course instructor.
Commander Nitin Gajjar took his family legacy forward. At NDA, he chose the same Golf Squadron as his father and attended the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington like his grandfather, the media house reported. Today, he is a qualified helicopter flight instructor and holds the distinction of being among the handful of military pilots to have trained and operated in all three services.