This Republic Day there is just one recipient of India's highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashok Chakra: Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami. A special forces commando, Goswami is being given the award posthumously and his story is the stuff of legend.

Goswami, who hailed from the Indira Nagar village near Nainital, had joined the 9 Para (Special Forces) unit and made a name for himself as one of the toughest men in a unit which is considered as one of the hardest to get into in the world.

In August 2015, he was posted in Kashmir where the unit was part of counter-terrorism operations. On August 23, he participated in the Khurmur region of Handwara in which three Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives were killed.

Just a couple of days later, on August 26, he volunteered for a second mission in Rafiabad in which three militants were killed and one was captured alive.

Representational image | Source: PTI

On September 2, there was a fresh mission and again Goswami volunteered to be a part of it. This time his unit would be ambushing a group of terrorists from across the border in the Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir.

As they slowly stalked the terrorists in the night, there was suddenly a burst of gunfire from the militants in which two of his comrades were injured.

Goswami and his buddy commando dashed to their injured colleagues while under fire and despite the very clear risk to their lives. The soldiers returned fire and one among the four terrorists were killed.

But as the exchange of fire continued, Goswami sensed danger to three of his wounded colleagues. He could have stayed pinned to his position. But he chose otherwise.

Representational image | Source: Reuters

Goswami abandoned safety and charged the three remaining terrorists. Suddenly all the fire from them was directed only at the charging commado. One bullet hit him in the thigh. It wasn't enough to stop him.

He was now close to the group of terrorists and killed one of them and injured another. Another bullet hit him in the abdomen. But that still wasn't enough to stop him. He hurled himself at the last surviving terrorist and killed him at point blank range.

It was then that the injuries took their toll on him. He collapsed and was declared dead by the time he was taken to a hospital.

The official citation says:

"Lance Naik Mohan not only killed two terrorists, but also assisted in neutralizing the other two and save the lives of three of his wounded colleagues."

Goswami is survived by a wife and a seven-year-old daughter.

Feature image source: Twitter