Wing Commander Mervyn L. Middlecoat

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Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat (July 1940 – 12 December 1971) was a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter pilot who was twice awarded Sitara-e-Jurat (In 1965 & 1971) and Sitara-e-Jurat (1971). Born to Percy and Daisy Middlecoat in Ludhiana, India, in July 1940, he joined PAF in 1954 and won the Best Performance Trophy in ground subjects. He took part in some very important aerial battles during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani wars and was credited with several air-to-air kills.

When the 1965 war broke out, he was posted in Karachi and flying one of the premier fighter planes, the F-86, Sabre aircrafts. During air battles, he shot down two enemy aircrafts, a feat for which he came to be known as the ‘Defender of Karachi’. Later on he performed an impressive series of seventeen ‘Air Sorties’ and three ‘Photo Reconnaissance’ missions. At the end of the war, he was awarded the richly deserved “Sitara-e-Jurat” for his bravery and professional leadership.

Once when he was suggested to move abroad, he replied “Listen, this is my country; I was born here; my ancestors are buried here. I have spent my life defending my country; perhaps I will sacrifice my life for this country one day as well. I am not going anywhere.”

In 1971, he was promoted to Wing Commander at the outbreak of war and was one of the six strike command officers who were selected to conduct the aerial operation “Amritsar Radar”, and was assigned to attack the heavily defended Indian airbase at Jamnagar. On 12 December while returning after the successful mission he was engaged by 2 enemy MiG-21s and he was hit over the Gulf of Kutch. The Indian pilot that shot him down saw him eject into the Arabian Sea, in shark infested waters and it was considered unlikely that he survived. He was declared missing in action, and posthumously was awarded the Sitara-i-Jurat for the second time.

His widow also received a personal letter from King Hussain of Jordan where he wrote, “Sister, the passing away of the Shaheed is not only the loss of you and Pakistan, but also mine. It is my wish that when he is buried, his body will be wrapped up in Pakistan’s flag, but the flag of my country Jordan must be placed below his head.” Middlecoat had fought for the King earlier during the Six Day War with Israel.

Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat remains one of a number of distinguished Pakistani strike and fighter pilots of the period who gave his life to protect his country.

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