Ace MiG pilot Air Marshal T D Joseph awarded AVSM; ex-colleagues recall him as a gem of an instructor

Ace Mig pilot Air Marshal T D Joseph awarded AVSM
Air Marshal T D Joseph

Bengaluru: Air Marshal T D Joseph Thazhathupulikunnel Devasia Joseph, Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) at Headquarters Training Command of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) on the occasion of Republic Day 2021.

President of India Ram Nath Kovind will confer the AVSM on Air Marshal Joseph at a function to be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the coming days.

Born in Ayarkunnam village, Kottayam (Kerala) to Pulikunnel P T Devasia and Rosamma Devasia in a farming family, he did his initial schooling from village schools. Later, he did his ICSE from Loyola School Thiruvananthapuram and CBSE +2 from Mayo College Ajmer.

He joined the National Defence Academy in January 1979 and was commissioned into the IAF as a fighter pilot in December 1982 at the top of his batch.

He was the winner of Nawanagar Sword of Honour and President’s Plaque for standing first in Order of Merit.

Air Marshal T D Joseph with his boys at Flying Instructors’ School in Chennai
Air Marshal T D Joseph with his boys at Flying Instructors’ School in Chennai.

The Air Marshal has flown over 3800 hours on various fighter and trainer aircraft. He is a Category ‘A’ Qualified Flying Instructor and Instrument Rating Examiner.

He has flown fighter aircraft like MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-27, and all trainer aircraft available in the IAF today. He commanded a fighter squadron, Flying Instructors’ School Chennai and a major air base.

As an Air Vice Marshal, he was the Air Defence Commander in the South Western sector and Eastern sector and was a senior faculty in the internationally renowned National Defence College, New Delhi.

For his distinguished service to the nation he was earlier bestowed the Presidential awards of Vayusena Medal in 2003 and Vishisht Seva Medal in 2010.
He has published articles on air power and national security matters and is the author of a book – Winning India’s Next War - Role of Airspace Power – published in 2007.

He is an alumnus of Defence Services Staff College Wellington, Royal College of Defence Studies, London and King’s College, London.

Ever since taking over as SASO at Training Command in May 2019, Air Marshal Joseph has been involved in several administrative reforms.
“We are all excited with the news of Air Marshal Joseph being awarded the AVSM. He is a true leader and we are fortunate enough to serve under his command. During the pandemic spread, there were several initiatives put in place by him to ensure the safety of air warriors at the Training Command,” a serving officer said.

For the upcoming Aero India 2021 being held at Air Force Station Yelahanka under strict COVID-19 protocols, Air Marshal Joseph has been playing a critical role for the smooth conduct of the show.

Speaking to Onmanorama, Gp Capt Nitin Welde (Retd), who had served under the senior officer’s command at FIS Chennai from 2007 to 2009 terms Air Marshal Joseph as a calm, composed commander who knew his craft too well.

“He is a silent motivator who always stood rock steady behind his boys. To us he is a guru of gurus who led the alma mater of instructors in the most admirable way. Our association of two years are wonderful memories of a lifetime,” says Gp Capt Welde (Retd), now a leadership coach and facilitation expert.

Group Capt M J Augustine Vinod (Retd) recalled his days as Flight Cadet reporting to Flight Lieutenant T D Joseph.

"As Flight Cadet, in 1991-92 period, I was apprehensive who will my instructor be and how will I be treated in the cockpit. TD Sir, turned out to be a gem in the cockpit, taught flying patiently and connected theory of aerodynamics to practice. He used to show me what we learnt in the class in air. That made me, what I am. Later, when I became an instructor myself in 1999, I too used similar principals to teach flying the way I was taught by TD Sir,” Gp Capt Vinod (Retd), a former MiG-21 and Mirage pilot, said.

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