Air Force felicitates ‘Paddy Mendis’ | Daily News

Air Force felicitates ‘Paddy Mendis’

Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Pathman Hariprasadha Mendis is being felicitated by Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne (right).
Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Pathman Hariprasadha Mendis is being felicitated by Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne (right).

Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Pathman Hariprasadha Mendis FBIM, popularly known as ‘Paddy Mendis’, was born on January 24, 1933. He joined the Royal Ceylon Air Force (RCyAF) as its fifth recruit on August 8, 1951. After enlistment, then Officer Cadet Mendis was sent to Britain for training at the prestigious Royal Air Force College in Cranwell. In 1959, then Flight Lieutenant Mendis was sent to the RAF Central Flying School to be trained as Flying Instructors at RAF Little Rissington in Gloucestershire. He was the first Ceylonese to be trained as a Qualified Flying Instructor.

Air Chief Marshal PH Mendis made steady progression through the ranks of Pilot Officer to Air Commodore and was appointed as the 4th Commander of the Royal Ceylon Air Force on January 1, 1971, exactly 50 years ago. He was the first Ceylonese Officer to command Royal Ceylon Air Force. He also started his career in the same organisation as well. With Ceylon becoming a Republic in 1972, the Royal Ceylon Air Force changed its name to the Sri Lanka Air Force along with its insignia and Air Vice Marshal P.H. Mendis became the first Air Force Commander.

With this proud heritage in mind and under the direct supervision of the Air Force Commander, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, a special felicitation ceremony was arranged on January 1 for Air Chief Marshal PH Mendis at the Air Force Museum at the SLAF Base, Ratmalana.

The ceremony commenced a ceremonial Guard of Honour to Air Chief Marshal P.H. Mendis by the SLAF Colour Wing. He was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal R.P. Liyanagamage and the SLAF Base Commander, Ratmalana, Air Commodore LC Dissanayake. Thereafter Air Chief Marshal Mendis was conducted to the Gallery of the Commanders where he unveiled his special portrait. Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd) participated in the event as its Guest of Honour.

Air Chief Marshal Mendis together with the distinguished attendees were escorted to the main hangar of the Air Force Museum where the felicitation ceremony took place. The SLAF Base Commander, Ratmalana, Air Commodore LC Dissanayake made the official welcome address. Thereafter, a celebratory cake was cut by Air Chief Marshal Mendis flanked by the Guest of Honour, Former Air Force Commanders and Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana.

The Guest of Honour, Secretary of Defence, General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd) made a special address where he appreciated and congratulated Air Chief Marshal Mendis (Retd) on reaching this historic milestone.

Air Chief Marshal Mendis (Retd) was then presented with a special memento in the form of an Air Force Ceremonial Sword and also another special memento by the Guest of Honour General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd). Air Chief Marshal Mendis (Retd) also made an address to the distinguished gathering where he took the audience back in time to the days when he served in the Air Force.