SGT UDAY SINGH
Absent in body, but present in spirit. – Corinthians 1:3
Uday Singh was an alumnus of St. Stephen’s, having joined the school in 1994 and passed out in the year 2000 with the first batch of Class 12. The school was plunged in gloom on 3 December 2003 when the news of his ultimate sacrifice was received, when he was killed in an ambush in Habbaniyah, Iraq on 1 December 2003 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Uday was already a green card holder and on leaving the school joined the US Army for a period of two years after which he would go on to complete his college education. Uday enlisted in the army on 28 August 2000 and on termination of initial training was assigned to C Company 1st Battalion, 34 Armour Regiment, based on Fort Riley, Kansas, USA.
He then did tenure in Kuwait from August 2001 to December 2001 where he was decorated with the first of the 2 Army Achievement Medals for meritorious service. His Company Commander wrote to Uday’s father saying that he was an outstanding soldier. A certificate was also awarded by the Commanding Officer “Be it known that this certificate is awarded in recognition of your outstanding service, and is a token of the high esteem in which you are held by the officers and soldiers of the Task Force Centurion.
”On return from Kuwait, Uday’s terms of enlistment were over and he could have then left the army and gone to college. However, he chose to re-enlist in May 2002 for a period of another two years. Uday’s unit was deployed to Iraq in September 2003.
At the Memorial Service held at Camp Manhattan, Iraq on 4 December 2003, Captain Taylor, the Company Commander, paid tributes saying, ‘Singh took advantage of every opportunity to better himself and realize his personal goal of becoming a US citizen and an Army Officer. He attended college and applied for US Citizenship and applied himself to becoming an expert tanker. Singh’s performance was extraordinary.’
Captain Taylor also spoke of Uday’s heroism and how his fellow soldiers felt about him. ‘Singh, a patriot, was living the American dream. His dream. The quote of Henry David Thoreaue, ‘Heroes are often the most ordinary of men,’ applied to Uday. He was a hero to every soldier in his Company for going into battle every day especially after being wounded. Uday fought hard for his band of brothers and the country that he loved and wished to someday become a citizen of. The sacrifice he made, and the way he lived his life, will always be remembered by every soldier in Cobra Company.
He was wounded on 12 October 2003 when an IED exploded near him but he chose to continue to remain with the platoon. On 1 December 2003, Uday was in the lead Humvee of his platoon while out on reconnaissance, when the platoon came under fire. Uday was the first to fire back and kept the insurgents pinned down till such time reinforcements could arrive. However, in the continuing fire-fight, he was hit with a shot to his head and could not survive, dying on the way to the hospital.
Uday was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery and ultimate sacrifice. These awards were made at Chandigarh during the Memorial Service by the US Military on 11 December 2003, by Lieutenant General James Campbell, US Army.
His awards include the following –
Bronze Star – 01 December 2003
Purple Heart – 01 December 2003
Purple Heart – 12 October 2003
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Achievement Medals with Oak Leaf Cluster
National Defence Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Good Conduct Medal
Army Service Medal
Uday’s ashes are buried at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington (near Washington D.C.) Section 60, Gravesite No. 8122. He is remembered dearly by his friends and teachers alike. He touched many hearts and not only brought honour to the family but also to his alma mater.