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NewsMeet The Only 5 Star Officer from Indian Air Force

Meet The Only 5 Star Officer from Indian Air Force

The life and achievements of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh serve as a beacon of inspiration for all. His dedication, courage, and leadership have left an indelible mark on Indian military history.

Born on April 15, 1919, in Faisalabad, Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh emerged as a remarkable figure in the annals of Indian Military History. His unmatched leadership during the 1965 Indo-Pak war and distinguished service in the Indian Air Force (IAF) made him an icon of military history. This article delves into the life and achievements of this pioneer, shedding light on the trials, triumphs, and legacy of Marshal Arjan Singh.

Early Life and Education

Arjan Singh was born into a Punjabi Jat Sikh family in Lyallpur, in the erstwhile Punjab Province of British India (now Faisalabad, Pakistan). His family had a long-standing tradition of joining the armed forces, and Singh was the fourth generation to continue this legacy.

His father served as a Lance Daffadar in Hodson’s Horse and retired as a Risaldar in the Cavalry. Singh’s grandfather and great-grandfather had also served in the Guides Cavalry and were martyred during the Afghan campaign of 1879.

Arjan Singh

Singh received his early education in Montgomery (now Sahiwal, Pakistan) and was known as a well-rounded sportsman. He was the captain of the college swimming team and set numerous records. In 1938, Singh joined the RAF College Cranwell at the age of 19, where he excelled in swimming, athletics, and hockey.

The Left-Hand Salute of Sepoy Dhan Singh Gurjar

Military Career and World War II

In December 1939, Singh was commissioned as a Pilot Officer after topping the Empire Pilot training course. He flew Westland Wapiti biplanes with the No. 1 Squadron stationed at Air Force Station Kohat in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

During World War II, he commanded the No. 1 Squadron, leading them in the Arakan Campaign. For his exceptional leadership and courage, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in June 1944.

Arjan Singh once said, “The IAF had already extensive experience of fighting against the Pathans in the North-West Frontier Province, but I was eager to go into battle against the Japanese, then poised for an attack on eastern India, especially the Imphal-Kohima front.”

Arjan Singh

Post Independence Career and Achievements

On August 15, 1947, the day India achieved independence, Singh led the first fly-past of Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) aircraft over the Red Fort in Delhi. Subsequently, he commanded Air Force Station, Ambala at the rank of Group Captain.

In 1950, after completing the staff course at Joint Service Defence College, Latimer, Buckinghamshire, he was promoted to the rank of Air Commodore and took over the Operational Command.

In May 1964, Singh was appointed as the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), becoming the youngest and the only IAF officer to be promoted to a five-star rank as Marshal of the Indian Air Force, equal to the army rank of Field Marshal. His leadership during the 1965 Indo-Pak war earned him the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award.

Arjan Singh

Diplomatic and Political Career

After retiring from the IAF, Singh served in various capacities, including India’s Ambassador to Switzerland, the Holy See, and Liechtenstein from 1971 to 1974, and as the High Commissioner of India to Kenya from 1974 to 1977.

He also served as the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi from 1989 to 1990. In January 2002, the rank of Marshal of the Indian Air Force was conferred on Singh, making him the first and only officer of the IAF to receive the honor.

Personal Life and Later Years

In 1948, Singh married Teji Singh, with whom he had a long and devoted marriage of 63 years until her death in 2011. They had three children together. Singh remained active even in his later years, continuing to contribute to the welfare of air force veterans. He passed away on September 16, 2017, at the age of 98.

Arjan Singh


Marshal Arjan Singh’s legacy continues to inspire a new generation of Indians and Air Warriors. His contributions to the Indian Air Force and the nation were immense. The Air Force Sports Control Board organizes an annual ‘Marshal Arjan Singh Memorial All India Hockey Tournament’ in his honor. In 2019, the IAF celebrated the birth centenary of the Marshal with a series of events across the country.

Arjan Singh

Awards and Decorations

Over the course of his career, Arjan Singh received numerous awards and decorations, including the Padma Vibhushan, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the title of Marshal of the Indian Air Force. These recognitions are a testament to his exceptional service and commitment to the nation.

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The life and achievements of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh serve as a beacon of inspiration for all. His dedication, courage, and leadership have left an indelible mark on Indian military history.

His story is a testament to the power of determination, courage, and a commitment to serving one’s country. As we remember his contributions, we are reminded of the ideals of selfless service, bravery, and patriotism that he stood for.

“Arjan Singh is an inspiration to a new generation of Indians and Air Warriors. For his extraordinary service to the Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh was named the first and only IAF ‘Five Star’ officer by the Government of India.”

The Editorial Team at SSBCrack consists of professional writers, journalists and defence aspirants.

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