The dream of 38-year-old A. Pradip, who was on the ill-fated IAF Mi 17 helicopter that crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu killing 13 of the 14 crew onboard, may never come true now.
Junior Warrant Officer Pradip was a flight gunner in the IAF and boarded the helicopter from Sulur, where he is stationed along with his wife and two children.
Hailing from Trissur, he was beside his ailing father until the end of last week, when he came for a two-week break along with his family.
It was just towards the end of last week that he returned to duty, and four days after joining he died in the helicopter crash, which took the lives of India's first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others.
It was in 2002 that Pradip joined the IAF as a weapons-fitter and then became an Air Crew which enabled him to travel the length and breadth of the country. When Kerala witnessed the worst floods in a century he opted to join the helicopter squad which was engaged in rescue works at various locations in the state and for this efforts he was commended by the President of India.
It was not until late Wednesday night that the news came that Pradip was onboard the helicopter and since then his house at Trissur where his parents live have been seeing an unending stream of visitors.
"He was always like one of us and was at the forefront of all functions in his neighbourhood, whenever he came for leave. When he came last, he was mostly beside his ailing father," said a neighbour of Pradip.
According to another neighbour, Pradip after buying a plot of land near his house wanted to build a new home, as in two years he was eligible to retire, but now that seemed difficult, felt his friends and neighbours.
The village of Pradip is now preparing for the funeral of their favourite son and the villagers are expecting that the last rites might be held on Friday.