Name: Yunus Hussain
Pak No: 3857
Father’s Name: Khawaja Yusuf Hussain
Date of Birth: 1 Jun 1935
Place of Birth: Panipat, India
GD(P) Course: 26 GD (P)
Date of Commission: 25 Jun 1958
Date of Shahadat: 6 Sep 1965
Gallantry Award: Sitara-e-Jurat (SJ)
Early Life/Career: Yunus was born eighteen years after the marriage of his father, Mr Khawaja Yusuf Hussain, a businessman by profession. The family belonged to historically famous town of Panipat in India. Although he was the only child of his parents, he was provided with a very modest upbringing due to weak financial position of his parents. Therefore, the early days of his life were a story of hardships and struggle for the acquisition of basic amenities of life, particularly education. At the time of partition, his family migrated to Pakistan and got settled in Jhang. He was admitted to Govt High School Jhang City, from where he passed his matriculation exams. Tall and handsome Yunus later did his FSc from Multan. Unable to continue further education, he was forced to take up a job at Lahore. During his early years, he was restless and dissatisfied with his job. However, he kept faith and knew one thing for sure that this could not be his destiny. His efforts for improvement took him to PAF Selection Centre at Lahore; he was rejected in his first attempt for being overage. However, who could deny him the destiny and glory preordained. Sometimes later, as tensions grew between Pakistan and India, PAF asked for volunteers under slightly relaxed rules. He once again presented himself and this time he was successful. He joined RPAF College in 1956.
Brilliant and hardworking, Yunus showed outstanding performance during training and became the SUO (Sqn Under Officer) in the final term of his stay at Risalpur. After spending two busy years at RPAF College, promising Yunus earned his wings in 1958. After graduation, Yunus’s professionalism saw no bounds. Flying was like second nature to him. His craze for flying led him to record the fastest 500 and then 1000 flying hours of PAF, a feat for which he was twice green endorsed by non other than Air Mshl Asghar Khan, the then C-in-C. His performance in various service courses was always second to none, be it the Fighter Leaders’ Course or the F-104 Conversion Course. His active participation in the skirmishes in Dir-Bajaur Ops in 1960-62 was acknowledged and he was awarded with “Tamgha-i-Diffa.” After serving various Sqns of PAF with pride, Yunus joined the elite No 5 Sqn under the leadership of brilliant Sqn Cdr, Sqn Ldr Rafiqui. Together they fought the war in 1965 and together they attained Shahadat in line of duty.
Brief Description of Gallantry: The fateful day of Sep 6 was ending. The sky was hazy and the sun had nearly gone down when a formation of three Sabre fighter-bombers of the PAF roared into the enemy territory. As they entered the hostile area, the leader of a returning PAF offensive mission came up on the radio, warning the leader about the presence of a large number of IAF aircraft inside enemy territory. Disregarding, the debonair and determined Rafiqui pressed on single-mindedly with his two compatriots, Flt Lt Cecil Chaudhry and Flt Lt Yunus Hussain, following close behind on his wings. It was the last PAF mission for the day; and at that time theirs were the only PAF aircraft in the enemy territory with no surprise element whatsoever in their favour. Their target was the important Indian Air Force base of Halwara, about 40 miles south of Jalandhar.
With eyes scanning the vast expanse of the Indian sky for enemy interceptors, the three fighters approached their target, but by then the last rays of the setting sun were completely engulfed by the thick haze on the western horizon. The Sabres, looking like hawks, searched for their prey but the failing light had obliterated the ground features beyond identification. Another three minutes passed when Rafiqui’s voice came over the radio link;“Boys, let us go back; the light conditions are against us.”
With reluctance and heavy hearts, the three valiant fighters banked into a turn. Hardly had they set course for the base when a swarm of enemy Hunters zoomed in for attack. They came in pairs, one after the other.
“Jettison stores,” yelled the leader; and the Sabres bucked like wild horses as the external fuel tanks dropped off the wings. Soon Yunus came on the radio and said, ‘Leader, let us go for them.”
Rafiqui, in the meantime had manoeuvred his Sabre close behind his target. He pressed the gun-button and a stream of armour-piercing and incendiary bullets slammed into the fuselage and engine of the enemy, Point-Blank range! They relentlessly raked the Hunter and suddenly the darkening Indian sky was lit with a crimson flash as the enemy aircraft exploded.
The grim battle continued. Yards away from Rafiqui, Yunus was chasing another enemy fighter. He pulled up into a tight barrel roll, which helped him to get behind the Hunter. As the enemy aircraft came within range, Yunus opened a telling burst from his six lethal guns; the barrage of cannon fire touched off a fast-billowing smoke from the left wing of the ill-fated Hunter. Next moment a parachute blossomed and went down as the pilot bailed out. Suddenly, more Hunters joined the battle and the area became a hornet’s nest sprawling with enemy aircraft.
Meanwhile, Rafiqui’s aerial heroics continued. As one of the Hunters came within range, Rafiqui pressed his firing button. The guns remained silent; he pressed the button again but to no effect. The guns had jammed.
“My guns have jammed, Cecil, take over the lead. I’ll cover you,” called out Rafiqui on the radiotelephone and pulled sharply to one side to let Chaudhry get ahead. The gallant hero, though unarmed, had refused to quit the battle and supported his wing men so that they could continue the fight. Undaunted by the numerical superiority of the enemy aircraft, Yunus and Chaudhry leaped on the Hunters. Meanwhile, Rafiqui, like a seasoned leader, flew on the defence covering Chaudhry and Yunus while they were blasting the enemy. As the dogfight continued, Yunus scanned the skies but there was no trace of their gallant leader. Rafiqui was gone. He attained Shahadat in keeping with the rich traditions of PAF. Stung by the loss of their leader, Chaudhry and Yunus made a tight turn and furiously broke into the two Hunters. With Yunus covering the ‘tail’, Chaudhry manoeuvred to get behind the second Hunter; and as the enemy came within range and he was about to press the trigger, he heard a thud. He looked back and saw Yunus aircraft explode in the air. He did not see him bailing out. Courageous Yunus was also gone. The journey that had started in 1936 had come to an abrupt
end, though, in the finest traditions of PAF.
With Rafiqui and Yunus gone, Flt Lt Cecil Chaudhry banked for home with four enemy fighters after his blood. He was in a grim situation with Hunters trying all the tricks to get the lone Sabre. He made tight turns to dodge the enemy but they followed. Then suddenly he peeled off into a steep dive down to the deck. He pulled up just above the trees and levelled off. Seconds after agonising seconds passed until the lone fighter crossed the Beas River. The land of safety was a couple of minutes away and the enemy thought it futile to continue the chase. Flt Lt Cecil Chaudhry landed back at Sargodha alone, without his gallant leader and the brave comrade.
Brave men must die so that the nation lives. Sqn Ldr Rafiqui and Flt Lt Yunus had done just that to keep burning the torch of honour and freedom. They are gone but one thing is for sure; their heroics deeds during 1965 war would continue to inspire generations of PAF fighter pilots in the years to come.
Citation of Gallantry Award: “Flt Lt Yunus fought in air battle over enemy territory aggressively, fearlessly and with great professional skill. On 6 Sep while attacking Halwara airfield, a large number of enemy aircraft intercepted his small formation. He fought them with exceptional gallantry exceeding all limits and in the process shot down two Hunters. Although his aircraft was hit, he refused to break off engagement in complete disregard to his personal safety. He became a symbol of courage and professional ability for the other pilots. For his valour, professional skill and devotion to duty; he is awarded SJ.”
Family Details: Yunus married Surayya Jabeen in 1961, the eldest daughter of a Lahore based Kashmiri family. Yunus’s happiness knew no bounds when he became the father of his first child, Sajad, born in 1962. His younger son Fawad was born on 22 Aug 1965. He was only 22 days old when his gallant father embraced Shahadat.
Surayya Begum, the widow of Yunus Shaheed, is also the proud sister of Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, who embraced Shahadat in an unfortunate Fokker air accident near Kohat in 2002. Following in the footsteps of their legendary father, Sajad and Fawad, later joined PAF. Sajad became an Air Defence Controller and has recently retired as an Air Cdre. Fawad joined PAF as an Aeronautical Engineer and is presently serving as an Air Cdre.