Shri Gopi Chand Pandey
"I am the father of a great son. I know, I can never explain him for he was beyond my understanding and imagination. But I would like to mention some facts the country must know about him.
"We belong to a small village Rudha in Sitapur district, UP. I was not well-off when Manoj was born in the same village on June 25, 1975, as my eldest son. I remember, he was very lovable and affectionate to his grand parents as well as to other family members. He was unique in every manner. At school, his subject or syllabus could never rule him, he always ruled over them. In spite of being seriously ill he got unexpected marks in his 10th examination and was appreciated by everyone.
Manoj always understood my economic condition and whenever any crisis knocked my doorstep, I found him beside me. Observing the familyís condition, he started helping me in my business. He was adjudged the best cadet in NCC and was awarded by the Governor of UP. I had to spend no money on his education as he took care of himself through his scholarships.
"After Intermediate, Manoj was selected for NDA. I think this was the happiest day in his life as he had always desired to go to the Army. I cannot forget his answer to a question at SSB that he wanted to join the Force to be awarded Param Vir Chakra. This answer subsequently shocked everyone related to him as he achieved what he had said.In his own words : "One should join the Infantry in Army and in Infantry one must prefer the Gorkha Regiment". I am happy that he got both his desires fulfilled.
On commissioning, he was posted in Kashmir Valley at first. He was then posted to Siachen. On the glacier, he came across varied experiences. After coming back from the glacier, he shared all his experiences with us. He explained about the glacierís problems and Armyís efforts for survival there. In his own words : "On glacier, people fight the climate more than they fight the enemy".
"His holidays were the happiest days in our family. I know those days can not come back. Those days are over with the Kargil war. But in my memory those days are still fresh. In Kargil, my dearest son made his family and the nation proud. It was Khalubar where my son displayed extraordinary courage and great leadership. In spite of knowing very well that he was going to face death, he motivated his troops through his patriotic words. He did not care for his life for he thought the nation is above everything else. I respect his feelings. Only with hand-grenades and a khukri he scared his enemy and left none to flee. And for this great deed of courage, he had to sacrifice his life. His martyrdom will continue to be an inspiration for thousands who want to follow him.
"I am proud of you, my son! You are with me every moment in my memory. You are still guiding me. Whenever I am faced with any problem I go in front of his photo, see his face and the solution is always there."