September 3, 2021 will remain an unforgettable day in the history of Loyola School for the rare rendezvous of high-profile officers of the Indian Defence Forces on their dear old campus for the unveiling of the recently decommissioned MiG-27 positioned near the new basketball court, the very first thing one sees on entering the sprawling precincts of this sixty-year-young school.
The meticulously planned and impeccably organised function was attended by 14 Loyolite officers of the Defence forces and two non-Loyolite officers, the present MLA of the constituency Shri Kadakampally Surendran, Fr Sunny Kunnappallil SJ the Rector, Fr Devassy Paul SJ the former Principal, and Fr PT Joseph SJ the Principal all of whom played a pivotal role in getting the MiG positioned on the campus. Dr Ram Mohan the President of LOBA along with the other executive members, Fr Joseph Edassery SJ the former Vice Principal, Fr Roy Alex SJ the Principal of the CBSE school, the representatives and the President of the PTA, the spouses of a few IAF officers, and the members of the staff were among the others who attended the function.
Mrs Aswathy Philip welcomed the gathering, and Principal Fr PT Joseph SJ proposed the vote of thanks.
Among the highlights of the function were:
•The inauguration of the MiG Park by Shri Kadakampally Surend ran, •The unveiling of the acknowledgement plaque by Air Marshal SRK Nair and Air Marshal TD Joseph, •The unveiling of the MiG-history plaque by Colonel Lal Kesavan and Cdr Deepak Sebastian, •The dedication of the project to the Indian Armed Forces by Air Marshal B Suresh and Fr Devassy Paul SJ, and •The reminiscences of Wg Cdr Nalini Ranjan Kanthy of the Class of 1969 which brought together all the people involved in the run-up to the landing of the MiG. A fascinating piece of history by itself.
No less important was the second part of the function—the release of the digital version of all the 56 back issues of The Loyolite. Mr Reny M John of the 2007 batch, who spearheaded this project, briefed the audience on how it was envisioned and realised, and Frs Joseph Edassery SJ and PT Joseph SJ released the collection which is now available on the school website. The entire programme was streamed live.
Today’s function is not an air force show. It has been organised as a reunion of all Loyolites, and all servicemen irrespective of rank from all the three services. Had it not been for the pandemic we would have had a much larger representation from all the three services. 20, however, is not too bad a figure. We also have here with us representatives from all Loyolite bodies who are extremely proud of all the servicemen present here.
During its 60 years of existence, Loyola has sent 60 plus of its students to the armed forces. The first three to join the armed forces were from my batch, i.e. the 1969 batch, and the first to be commissioned was Brig S Vijaykumar (Retd). The first to sport three stars was Air Marshal SRK Nair.
There was no record of those who had opted for the Defence forces as a career. It took me almost two years to compile a list of Defence service personnel from Loyola. We have traced 63 till date, sixty of whom appear in the list displayed around the aircraft. Three more whose name came in later do not figure in the list but would be included shortly. One among the three is here today. Welcome Manoj Jayaseelan, thank you for accepting my request for your presence here.
All Loyolites who have joined the services have a unique bond irrespective of the number of years they studied in the school. Their attachment to the school is phenomenal. Suresh is one such example. He left school in the 8th standard but considers himself to be a hardcore Loyolite. This project would not have seen the light of the day had it not been for the excellent support that we got from Sri Kadakampally Surendran the former Minister for tourism and now the MLA from this constituency. He was ever willing to help us. We also acknowledge the help rendered by Hq SAC whose representatives Gp Capt Pradeep and Sqn Ldr Monika Bharan are here with us today. Wg Cdr MS Mathew (Retd) who helped us to a very great extent to get the necessary approvals from the Govt is also in our midst. He is not a Loyolite but still ran the extra mile smiling for us Loyolites. A special mention about the role played by Monika and her team in what is generally a logistic nightmare. She handled this flawlessly. Please give her a big hand. Thank you SRK and Joe for spending time handholding me in this project.
I also acknowledge with gratitude the effort put in by my friend and junior in school Architect F. Anand. He took on the task of designing the park and what you see here is all his effort. He was under constant fire from me from the NCR but took all that sportingly. Thank you friend. I am much obliged.
This aircraft is open to the public to visit. We have identified a photo point from where the entire aircraft can be captured.
A special thank you to Fr Devassy Paul SJ the former Principal who is also here today. Father grabbed the idea of installing an aircraft at the school the moment I mooted it. Unfortunately he was transferred out soon after. The project was finally executed with the active support and blessings of Fr PT Joseph SJ, the present Principal, who reposed great trust and confidence in me.
The intention behind this project is to motivate the new generation of Loyolites and the young generation from around this locality and our NCC cadets (who are also represented here today) to opt for the Defence forces as career choice. We hope this MiG will be a great motivator.
Let me assure you that a career in the Defence Services is second to none. In sixty years, sixty plus Loyolites chose this as a career. All of them excelled and we have three, three-star generals, two, two-star generals and two one-star generals from the school already. I am certain many more will join this list before long. Where each one of us has reached today is because of Loyola and there is no better way to acknowledge this than the project that we are dedicating today. It is a gift from all of us to our alma mater. Cheers Loyola! Jai Hind.