4th May 1999.
In the dead of night, twenty-one Indian soldiers began a trek to the Tiger Hill, one of the highest peak in the Drass-Kargil area of J&K. A group of 7 soldiers got ahead of the rest and reached the top.
Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav, a 19-year-soldier, was also one of those 7 soldiers who had made it to the top of the Tiger Hill. This is the story of his extraordinary bravery that changed the course of Kargil war.
Hailing from Aurangabad Ahir village of Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, Yadav had joined the Indian Army when he was only 16 years and 5 months old. His commando platoon Ghatak was given the responsibility to capture three strategic bunkers on Tiger Hill.
Barely out of high school, Yadav had been in the service for just 2.5 years. He may not have had the experience, but he certainly had an unparalleled love for his motherland.
When his battalion, the 18th Grenadiers, reached the top in the wee hours of May 5th, 1999, they were faced with three attacks by enemy soldiers. Fighting without enough arms and ammunition, 6 soldiers died except for Yadav.
Yadav took 17 bullets, but none was able to mar his undying commitment to the nation. Severely wounded, lying on the ground, Yadav pretended to be dead while listening to the conversation of the Pakistani soldiers.
He heard that the Pakistani army was planning to attack the medium machine gun post of India, located 500 metre downhill. Yadav was immediately alerted. Despite bleeding profusely, he wanted to keep himself alive just so he could give a tip-off to his platoon.
In the meanwhile, two Pakistani soldiers came and began shooting the already dead soldiers again to make sure that everyone was dead. One bullet hit Yadav in the chest and he thought that he had lost his last chance to live.
Just then, the Pakistani soldier's feet touched Yadav and he felt a sensation. Even in the extreme pain, the brave men found a hope to serve his country.
Very quietly, Yadav took out a hand grenade and threw it at the Pakistani soldier who was just a few feet away from him. The grenade landed inside the hood of his jacket and before he could figure out what had happened, the explosion blew him off.
Yadav then crawled, took hold of one of the rifles and began firing at the enemies while shifting his positions so as to give an impression that there were more than one soldiers.
Soon, there was a situation of confusion and panic among the Pakistani soldiers. Assuming that the Indian army reinforcement had arrived, they fled.
Yadav had crawled only for a few metres when he saw the Pakistani army's base, their tanks and their motor position. He wanted to give this information to his unit as soon as he could to avoid any casualty to the other soldiers on their way to Tiger Hill.
But before moving ahead, he crawled back up to the spot where the 6 soldiers were lying dead and checked if anyone was alive. Instead, he saw their body parts lying here and there. He broke down and cried his heart.
Soon after, he composed himself, swung his broken arm on his back and crawled along a drain and eventually landed into a pit.
There, he spotted some Indian army soldiers who took him out of the pit and to the commanding officer. Yadav narrated everything that he saw an heard to the Commanding officer, Colnel Kushal Chand Thakur, the man who had devised the plan to capture tiger hill.
After he had imparted the important information to his officers, the man of steely determination fell unconscious.
He gained conscious 3 days later at a hospital in Srinagar. By that time, the Indian Army had successfully captured Tiger Hill with zero casualties.
In August 1999, Nayab Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav was awarded Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military decoration, awarded for displaying exemplary courage during wartime.
On 26 January 2006, Yadav received the award from the then President K. R. Narayanan, becoming the youngest recipient of this honour.
During an interview to DD National, Yadav said:
"A soldier is like a selfless lover. With this unconditional love, comes determination. And for this love for his nation, his regiment, and his fellow soldiers, a soldier doesn't think twice before risking his life."
Hear's Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav narrating the whole story himself.
We salute you, Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav!