Tributes have begun pouring in for a “charismatic” and “patriotic” British Indian RAF officer who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, 29, perished in the incident along with five other servicemen in Kandahar province on Saturday. He was on his third tour of the country.
Flt Lt Chauhan was a member of the RAF’s elite and celebrated Intelligence Branch and he is said to have been part of a team supporting British special forces units in the country.
Although he was born and raised in Birmingham, his family currently lives in Leicester where they own the Milan’s Sarees outlet.
His devastated father Mr Kishore Chauhan told the Daily Mirror that his son had lived for his job.
“The air force has been my son’s passion since he was 11. He loved it, and I took comfort from seeing him happy in what he was doing.
“He was very patriotic about Britain, for which he made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Flight Lieutenant Chauhan had attended the private King Edward’s School in Birmingham and was a graduate of the prestigious St Andrews University in Scotland.
On Monday, Reverend Duncan Raynor, King Edward’s School Chaplain paid tribute.
He told the Birmingham Mail: “Rakesh left King Edward’s School in 2003 with the firm intention of joining the Royal Air Force.
“He gained the respect of both staff and students for his wholehearted commitment to every challenge he undertook, and for his sense of humour and enjoyment of life.
“He was a regular visitor to the school and spoke to me at length last year about the challenges and the risks of his deployment to Afghanistan.
“He was genuinely delighted to be assigned to a task in which he could use his intellect and his training to make a real difference to the world around him.
“He accepted the risks, but felt very strongly that this was a job worth doing and that the best thing to do was to get on with it.
“We are desperately sad to hear of his death, and our hearts go out to his family. We shall remember him with great affection, and with great respect for his determination to do a good job, and for the way he cared about the people around him and the world in which he lived.”
The dashing young officer was widely tipped for swift promotion through the ranks of the Royal Air Force and has been described as “charismatic” and “funny” by comrades.
The commander in charge of the Lynx flight said Flt Lt Chauhan – ‘Rak’ to his friends – was the “best Intelligence Branch officer I have known”.
Flt Lt Chauhan’s own commanding officer added: “He was a hugely influential and well respected officer whose enthusiasm and professionalism permeated every aspect of his work.
“Charming, funny and sharp as a tack, he was immensely proud of his role and of his service. An exceptional officer, he clearly had a bright future ahead of him.”
Flt Lt Chauhan died alongside fellow non-commissioned Intelligence officer Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, and Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters from the Army Air Corps.
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the crash, which the Ministry of Defence has described as a “tragic accident”.