What goes into making soldiers like Major David Manlun?

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What goes into making soldiers like Major David Manlun?
June 8, 2017, 8:44 pm by Subrata Saha | TOI

Major David Manlun, a young Indian Army Major made the supreme sacrifice fighting terrorists on the night of 6/7 June 2017 on the road linking Oting and Tizit in Mon District in Nagaland. Mon is the Northern most District of Nagaland bordering Myanmar to the East and Arunachal Pradesh to the North. This place is generally along the routes of infiltration and exfiltration to/from Myanmar.

The initial reports doing the rounds in the social media yesterday morning read, “On 07 June 2017 at around 0030h fire fighting between combined group of ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam), NSCN(K) (National Social Council of Nagaland- Khaplang) and 12 Para /H Coy 164 (TA ) at Lapa Lempong (MX- 4528) and Oting village near by (Tizit) Mon. During this firing incident 04 ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) cadres were killed. 164 TA Naga No SS 43887 Y Maj David Manlun of 2 NAGA currently posted with 164 H & H while leading operations from the front made the supreme sacrifice. 03 OR of 12 Para wounded”.

Beyond this brief communication of his supreme sacrifice is an “amazing profile” of a family from a remote corner of the country and their service to the Nation. It is a touching story of the many sacrifices made by the parents that went into creating this brave-heart. It is inspiring for the way David fought the terrorists like a Tiger to keep others out of harm’s way. It is heart-rending as he left for his heavenly abode much before his prime, leaving a void which is hard to fill with anything but the saga of his bravery.

Maj David Manlum is the son of Subedar Khamzalam of the 5th Battalion of the Assam Regiment, who retired in 2012, after over two and half decades of service in the Army. His sister Melody is married to Lt Col Ashutosh of the Assam Regiment. David’s brothers; Naik Jimmy belongs to the 8th Battalion of the Assam Regiment and the youngest sibling Siampu is studying.

Major David and the family are from the Zou tribe, in Manipur’s Churachandpur District, a village called Beihang on the India-Myanmar border with a population of just 1000. They have literally travelled a long way. By any standards this is phenomenal progress, for a man and wife from a remote village in Manipur to have amongst their children two commissioned officers and one non commissioned officer.

This is the outcome of great perseverance and sacrifice over years. While Subedar Khamzalam toiled in his military career moving from one operational area to another to provide for the family, his wife Ms Mampi lived in Shillong away from the comfort and support of their village home, struggling all by herself with four growing up children to give them the right education and upbringing to get them so far in their lives. David is a graduate from the well known St Anthony’s College in Shillong.

About five years back when Sub Khamzalam retired at the age of 50, Ms Mampi started a small shop to sell ladies purse to make up for the drop in income. Often she would say, “it is a matter of few more years, once Siampu (the youngest) settles down, I can relax “.

Yesterday morning when Ms Mampi was spoken to, her first reaction was “please don’t cry”. Despite what the cruel twist of destiny had done to her years of toiling, she put up a brave front for as long as she could. One wonders what gives her this strength?

Ms Mampi and her children have never missed a Sunday Church Service all their lives. As a young college student David used to be the Head of the Christian Endeavour of our Regimental Centre’s Church in Shillong. Christian Endeavour is the group of College and High School going children of our Regiment who volunteer to spend time to groom younger children after every Sunday mass. Ms Mampi was a live wire, inspite of all her commitments she could find time to lead the Women’s Society and be an active participant in all family welfare activities.

By the evening the official press release made the details clearer. David and his team were in the process of establishing a mobile check post when the armed terrorists travelling in an auto rickshaw sped past. On being pursued the terrorists opened fire on David and his men. In the ensuing firefight which took place in that pitch dark night three terrorists were neutralised. Unfortunately the auto rickshaw driver too succumbed. “The operation was led by Major David Manlun of 164 TA NAGA (H&H) who made the supreme sacrifice while gallantly leading from front while fiercely fighting the terrorists.”

What goes into making soldiers like David Manlun?

Strong values and a sense of sacrifice ingrained from the upbringing at home. Good military values and tough training built on the edifice of basic tribal instincts. David shall always be revered as a true leader who rose to the occasion, displaying the highest standards of bravery in the best traditions of the Armed Forces.