Col. Jojan Thomas was a bright and highly decorated Indian Military officer born on 22nd July 1965. He was the son of an army officer late Honorary Captain P. I. Thomas and Aleyamma Thomas from the Paruthimuttathu family in Thiruvalla, Kerala.
Colonel Thomas was eldest among his four siblings and came from a family with deep military roots with his two brothers also serving in the Armed Forces. He was inspired to join the Army by his father who served with The Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) in Secunderabad, Telangana.
A B.Com Graduate and The Brave Son of India Col. Thomas was commissioned into the army as 2nd Lt. with 11th Battalion of the Jat Regiment from the Officers Training Academy, Chennai in March 1986.
A year after being commissioned, he joined the battalion in Siachen (The highest battlefield in the world) for various operations. From 1989 to 1992 he was in J & K before joining Army Aviation Corps.
A brave, committed soldier and a military leader par excellence Col. Thomas became a trained helicopter pilot and had served for six years in Army Aviation Corps before he got selected for the prestigious Staff Course for Officers in the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Tamil Nadu. In 1999 after completing his staff college, he went back to the battalion as Company Commander.
In 2005, he got posted in Bengaluru ASC Centre and college as Senior Instructor. He was in Bengaluru for one and a half years, during that time he got approved for his full Colonel Rank.
In 2006, he took over as Commanding Officer of 45 Rashtriya Rifles in Kupwara, Jammu & Kashmir. He had already 20 years of experience of serving in various operational areas before moving to 45 Rashtriya Rifles.
“He was a very loving and caring father.” proudly says Philemon Thomas, son of Col. Jojan Thomas, who lives in Bengaluru and Col. Jojan Thomas described as a “motivated, strong-willed, go-getter type of person” by a family friend and retired Army officer Col. T K Jacob.
During a short visit home two weeks ago before laid down his life for the nation Col. Jojan Thomas, discussed his unit’s anti-infiltration operations in Kashmir at a family gathering. Asked by an uncle whether he would risk his life in the operations, Col. Thomas replied that he would do anything to protect his men.
In the early hours of 22nd Aug 2008, Col. Jojan Thomas received information about the presence of terrorists in the dense forests of Machhal in Kupwara, J & K. A decision was taken to launch an operation to catch or eliminate the terrorists at the earliest. Col. Thomas led that operation along with the troops from his unit after realizing the importance of the situation.
Immediately on reaching the area of operation, the troops encountered heavy gunfire from the terrorists. In the ensuing fierce gunfight Col. Thomas eliminated two terrorists from close quarters and during the encounter Col. Thomas sustained severe gunshot wounds.
Despite the injury, the brave officer Col. Thomas with utter disregard for personal safety continued the search in the densely forested area and again established contact with the terrorists and engaged a third terrorist in a fierce hand-to-hand fight and eliminated him. During the entire operation, the team led by Col. Thomas shot down six militants.
Col. Thomas later succumbed to his injuries and made the supreme sacrifice in service of the nation. Col. Jojan Thomas was given the nation’s highest peacetime gallantry award, “ASHOKA CHAKRA” posthumously for his outstanding courage beyond the call of duty, unfaltering leadership, and supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
Col. Jojan Thomas is survived by his mother Aleyamma Thomas, wife Beena Thomas, daughter Meghana Thomas, and son Philemon Thomas.