War hero MM Alam passes away

KARACHI: Celebrated hero of the 1965 War, legendry pilot Air Commodore (retd) Mohammad Mahmood Alam passed away here Monday after a prolonged illness. He was 78.

Popularly known as M.M. Alam, Commodore Alam was a retired Pakistani fighter-pilot, North American F-86 Sabre Flying ace and one-star general who served with the Pakistan Air Force.

Squadron Leader MM Alam, Commander of No 11 Squadron, was already a notable leader and highly experienced pilot in 1965, when he was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurrat (“The star of courage”), a Pakistani military decoration, for his actions during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. In earning his decorations, Alam downed five Indian aircraft in less than a minute – the first four within 30 seconds – establishing a world record. He also excelled in gunnery competition, a skill that without a doubt contributed greatly to his becoming the first and the only jet ace in one mission.

The war hero was born on July 6, 1935, in Calcutta, India and was the eldest of 11 siblings. No one in his family before him had been part of the military. His family moved to West Pakistan from East Pakistan around 1971.

Alam is well known for his actions during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 when he was posted at Sargodha. During this war he was involved in various dogfights while flying his F-86 Sabre fighter. He downed nine Indian fighters in air-to-air combat, including six Hawker Hunter fighters.

In 1967, Alam was transferred as the Squadron Commander of the first squadron of Dassault Mirage III fighters procured by the PAF. In 1972, he commanded No. 26 Squadron for two months.

In 1982, Alam retired as an Air commodore and took up residence in Karachi.

M. M. Alam Road in Gulberg, Lahore, is named after him.