A Family of Heroes: Wing Commander Deepak Sathe’s Elder Brother Was Also Martyred in the Line of Duty

Social Commentary

A Family of Heroes: Wing Commander Deepak Sathe’s Elder Brother Was Also Martyred in the Line of Duty

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Days after news broke that an Air India flight had crashed in Kerala’s Kozhikode, the casualties continue to rise. As many as 14 passengers remain in critical condition, after the horrific incident claimed the lives of 18 people, and left hundreds injured.

Part of this unfortunate toll was the captain of the aircraft — Wing Commander Deepak Sathe, who is said to have saved numerous lives with his presence of mind before losing his own in the crash.

Reports now say that the horrific crash took place on the same day the pilot had planned to celebrate his mother’s 84th birthday with her in Mumbai.

“He was a great son and always the first one to help others in need. He sacrificed his life for the country,” his grieving mother told reporters over the weekend, as the captain’s body was flown into Mumbai. “In the plane crash, the lives of 170 passengers were saved, but the person who saved their lives got killed. It was the wish of god.”

The late pilot comes from a family of army men. His father is retired Colonel Vasant Sathe. His elder brother, another accomplished army man, Lieutenant Vikas Sathe, died in an accident while on duty in 1981.

An image of the Wing Commander’s ageing parents grieving the loss of their second son in the line of duty was shared widely on social media, moving some to tears.

Captain Deepak Sathe had served in the Air Force for 21 years before he joined Air India as a commercial pilot in 2005. Apart from his over 30 years of flying experience, he is also said to have topped his course at the National Defence Academy.

“He was very helpful and would do anything for others. During the Gujarat floods, he had saved the children of servicemen by carrying them on his shoulders,” his mother told reporters from the couple’s Mumbai home.

Captain Deepak is survived by his wife Sushma, and three children, two of whom are alumni of IIT-Bombay. His funeral will be held in Mumbai tomorrow.