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Valour and Courage: 2Lt Panir Chellvum al Velaithan PGB – In an Ambush At Air Kala
Death or Glory
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The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
Stories Of Valour
No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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2Lt Panir Chellvum al Velaithan PGB – In an Ambush At Air Kala
Friday, February 17, 2006
Captain Panir Chellvum al Velaithan
Information was received that a group of Communist Terrorists were to make a collection of supplies to celebrate Chinese New Year. They were planning to collect these supplies from their supporters (Min Yuen) who were located at Kampung Baru, Air Kala, in Grik, Perak. To meet and destroy these group a special operation was launched by the 2nd Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Hassan Hj Mohd Salleh. This operation was launched based on information received from the Special Branch. The CPO of Perak, Commissioner of Police, Yuen Yet Leng was involved in this operation. The operation was named Operation “Pagar” (Fence). The information was classified A1, which meant reliable, positive and very likely.
There were special agents involved in these operations. Special Agents lived dangerously; they had infiltrated the Communist Party and worked as sympathizers against the Government, when in actual fact they were secret agents being members of the Police and the Military. The Police Field Force too were involved. Even with the Police involvement the whole operation was under the command of 2nd Infantry Brigade, meaning it was an Army show.
This operation was launched on the 14th February 1977. For this, particular operations, two layers of cordon were thrown in. The Cordon units comprised of 4th Royal Malay, 3rd Rangers, 8th Rangers and the Police Field Force. These units ran a cordon around Kampung Baru Air Kala and Selat Pagar. 5 Smaller units comprising of 5 men each, commanded by an Officer were to conduct ambushes in 5 different locations. These ambushes were conducted in areas, where the Enemy might mostly likely surface. 2Lt Panir along with 4 of his men, 928240 Cpl Kamarauddin bin Abdullah, 22458 LCpl Hasan bin Awang, 930319 Rgr Tahir bin Muhamad and 932336 Rgr Rusip anak Ngadek were selcted to be the “Killer Group” who were from 3rd Rangers.
2Lt Panir had previously been shot in his thigh during Operation “Kota” (Fort). He was from 3rd Rangers, this battalion had previously, taken the worst number of casualties, suffered 7 dead, in Klian Intan, Kroh, Perak on the 20th April 1970.
Liner Ambush
An Ambush Formation Cpl Kamaruddin too was involved in the fight where 2Lt Kassim bin Abdul Kadir (410327) and 929393 Rgr Mereng anak Imang were awarded the “PGB’ at Bukit Besar, Kulim, Kedah and also in the firefight where Captain Robert Rizal (200733) and 929901 Cpl Ahmad bin Adnan were awarded the “PGB’ in Nonok, Sarawak. He was initially on “light duties’ for wounds received during one of the firefights. He asked that he be returned to normal duties.
So in this particular group of 5 men, there was a combat seasoned Officer who had as his strong arm, another combat seasoned Corporal. They made a great team. They felt good to be in this particular group as they wanted a payback for the loss of 7 men lost to the Enemy at Klian Intan, they were looking forward to avenge their loss. 3 Infantry Battalions and a Battalion of the Police Field Force were to conduct a surprise cordon of the Kampung Baru Air Kala and Selat Pagar areas. Two layers of cordon were to be laid, if they could not get the enemy within the first cordon, they hoped that the second cordon would get them.
All the Killer groups were to be briefed by the Brigade Commander and the CPO of Perak at the Operations Room on the 13 February 1977. There was not enough space for all in the Operations Room. All the participants of the killer groups were to stand whilst all the Officers took up all the seating places. When Brigadier Hassan entered the Operations Room he asked, “ Who are the ones standing and who are the ones sitting ?” One of the Officers present explained that the standing ones were directly to be involved in the operations being the killer groups and the ones sitting were Officers who were there just to hear out the briefings. He then asked, “Who are the ones going to do the job tonight, the killer groups or the Officers? All you Officers stand and let the participants sit”.
All the Killer Groups sat down feeling proud that they were appreciated by their big Boss. The Officers had to stand. The Brigade Commander briefed them that, it would be good to kill off or capture the Communist Terrorists. The Enemy that they would face would probably 5-8 in strength. The operation was scheduled to end in 24 hours. The killer groups to be in their respective positions by 2000 hours. All troops were instructed to dress in greens, similar to the Police Field Force. No packs or food was allowed to be carried. As most of them were unprepared for the instructions on wearing greens, they was a lot of trading that went on amongst the troops who brought extra ‘greens’.
The Killer group from 3rd Rangers was instructed by it’s commander 2Lt Panir to leave all excess baggage at the 2nd Brigade HQ. From Ipoh they moved to the Police Field Force Camp at Air Kala using Police Field Force trucks. On the afternoon, of 13th February 1977, they were ordered to leave the camp when darkness fell not earlier than 1900 hours. The leading scout was LCpl Hassan bin Awang, he was instructed by 2Lt Panir to take a bearing of 4900 mills using the prismatic compass to head towards their ambush location. 6400 mill in a prismatic compass is equivalent to 360 degrees in a circle. They left the camp a little after 1900 hours.
Prismatic Compass
A Prismatic Compass They were soon in a rubber plantation approximately 2 map squares (2 km) away from the Police Field Force camp. LCpl Hassan successfully led his team to the ambush position which took them around 45 minutes. The ground had a very steep incline, the probability of the enemy using that spot to move was unlikely. LCpl Hassan suggested tha 2Lt Panir move the ambush position onto the pilot track of the electric pylons running from the Temenggor Dam, about 250 meters away from the designated ambush spot. His suggestion was accepted by 2Lt Panir and Cpl Kamaruddin. The went to that pilot track and took up an ambush position overlooking the pilot track of the electric pylons, which was at a bend in the track.
They were on an incline. LCpl Hassan took up position on the extreme right, to his left was Rgr Tahir, 2Lt Panir, Rgr Rusip and Cpl Kamaruddin on the extreme left, they laid a linear ambush. They started laying claymore mines and trip flares. They then took up positions. The night fell quickly, soon they were blanketed in pitch darkness. They were at that time not aware that they were in the center of a hill and also that the track that they laid the ambush on was the main enemy trail. LCpl Hassan lay behind a huge and leaning rubber tree, keeping very alert with his ears as nothing could be seen. Whilst they waited 2Lt Panir broke radio silence as instructed, by Brigade at a designated time.
He received the message that the Enemy had met up with their sympathizers and had collected their supplies. The Enemy had left the Chinese cemetery at Air Kala. He went back to radio silence. LCpl Hassan in the dark could see the white sticky tape he had placed at his foresight, rear sight and on the barrel of his M16. This was to enable him to aim in the dark, there were no night vision sights then. The tapes could be seen quite clearly. A realization dawned on him, that if the Enemy came they would be able to spot this luminous tapes. He quickly tore them off. After tearing the sticky tapes off he lay very quietly. Not long after that he heard a number of people walking towards where he lay. He glanced to his right, he saw one of them advancing and another 5 stopping behind the leading Enemy.
The shadowy figure in front advanced and was pointing his weapon in LCpl Hassan’s direction, barely two feet from him. He leaned towards LCpl Hassan giving out an unintelligible signal with his mouth to LCpl Hassan. LCpl Hassan did not respond to this, he was concentrating on the 5 shadowy figures behind the leading one. As the shadowy figure that was close to him withdrew, a woman’s voice was heard, the voice was speaking in Chinese. This made him realize that the Enemy who was around two feet away was not a member of the friendly Forces who had strayed away on their way to their own ambush position. That was his assessment when the figure first approached him in the dark.
He was unsure whether he had flicked his safety catch to ‘auto’ on his M16. Anyway he leveled his rifle and squeezed his trigger, at the same time yelling out “Enemy, at the rear !! ” This was yelled out so as to warn the rest of the group. Everyone started firing to the rear of them. Cpl Kamaruddin who was holding the M79 was letting loose round after round. The rest, as there were limited arcs of fire to fire safely fired controlled burst from their rifles. LCpl Hassan was located in the best firing position. He emptied his first magazine, fumbling in his excitement to change a second magazine into his rifle.
He forgot to “quick release’ the breech block. He realized it when the trigger did not work, he quickly slapped the quick release. The block slammed into place, pushing a round into the breech. He emptied the second magazine, he then reached for his two hand grenades and hurled them. They exploded, he managed to exhaust his remaining magazines in a fleeting moment. He also yelled out that the enemy was to the right of their group. The Enemy all this while had not returned fire. They must have been surprised, very surprised.
The Enemy must have panicked as they might have at first thought that the Rangers were their own people. They did return fire after some time, it was erratic and wild firing. The only one person who could fire safely was LCpl Hassan, as the ambush formation following the lay of the ground was curved in an “U” shape. If they fired they might have hit some of their mates. They just fired to the rear before reforming into a linear formation, facing to the right this time. 2Lt Panir who was observing the return fire of the Enemy heard the sound of wood being rubbed against another piece of wood. To him the shots and the sound were very close.
He realized that the Enemy was trying to close up to them, he pulled out his hand grenade, yanked out the pin, when he was sure that the Enemy was close he hurled it where he thought the Enemy was. It exploded only meters away from them. After that he heard the word “Chau!! Which meant ‘flee’. He threw two more hand renades at the Enemy, one of it failed to explode. The Enemy after that, fled for their lives. LCpl Hassan after emptying all the 5 magazines he had with him, called Rgr Tahir, to ask him to provide cover while he charged his now, empty magazines. Rgr Tahir was worried when he heard LCpl Hassan call out to him, thinking that LCpl Hassan might be wounded.
He felt relieved when LCpl Hassan told him that he had run out of bullets in his magazines. Rgr Tahir immediately came to him. LCpl Hassan also indicated the likely position of the enemy in front of him. Rgr Tahir when shown the probable location of the Enemy opened up giving sporadic bursts of fire from his rifle. The Enemy who everyone thought had withdrawn now started returning Tahir’s fire, from uphill. They did so, as they were now able to identify the location of the Rangers. Also they could see the muzzle flash of Tahir’s M16. LCpl Hassan then asked Cpl Kamaruddin to fire his M79, to which Cpl Kamaruddin replied that he was out of rounds, he had earlier used up the whole bandolier of 40mm rounds. They just stayed put in that position. 2Lt Panir then, got into contact with the Artillery Battery that was indirect support of the operation.
This battery was located in the vicinity of Air Kala, could cover a radius of 8,000 meters (8km) He requested for an illuminating round to be fired, which when fired fell behind them thus illuminating their position. Their position was lit, quickly 2Lt Panir did contact the Artillery Battery and adjusted fire to the front of their location. This time they could see the scattered packs and equipment of the enemy and the body of one of the Enemy lying lifeless. He moved forward to confirm the kill. This sight made him feel joyful. He reported to the Tactical Headquarters on his group’s kill.
The Enemy now, once in a while let out sporadic shots at them. They remained in their position and were very alert until morning, so that they could conduct a search better under daylight conditions. Once the sun came up 2Lt Panir ordered a search to be conducted. They found one of the dead enemy, beside him lay a Browning 9mm pistol. Around him lay 5 packs, filled with foodstuff. Most of the foodstuff had disintegrated due to the rounds slamming into them. He straightaway contacted the Brigade Commander and requested permission to do a follow up. To which the Brigade Commander told him that reinforcements were on the way and would arrive at their location very soon.
He was given permission to pursue the fleeing Enemy with limitations, that he was not to pursue the Enemy for more than 2 map squares (2km) as he had too small a force with him. 2Lt Panir ordered LCpl Hassan to stay and guard the dead Enemy and equipment. The ones who followed him were 3 others, Cpl Kamaruddin, Rgr Rusip and Rgr Tahir, making the force a “formidable” force of 4 men. They were soon joined by a combat tracker team with a tracker dog. As they followed the Enemy’s trail they found traces of blood, indicating that some of the escaping Enemy might be wounded.
The Combat Tracker Team failed to pick up the trail. 2Lt Panir ordered everyone to go back to the point of contact (ambush position). As they were moving, everyone followed in their own direction, going over undergrowth and small shrubs in a search formation. Cpl Kamaruddin who was with a Combat Tracker, crashed through undergrowth. Just moments before that he heard some leaves being rustled, he thought that they were squirrels. He quietly observed the trees in front of him. He saw something very unexpected, he saw a man wearing yellowish colored clothing.
At first he thought that the person might be a rubber tapper. He saw that the person was squatting, and observing Cpl Kamaruddin without batting an eyelid. Cpl Kamaruddin still unsure whether he was Enemy or rubber tapper shouted at him, “ Get up ! What the hell are you doing here?” The young Chinese immediately stood, his face had turned pale at the same time flinging away a semi automatic Browning pistol which he was holding. He raised up his arms in surrender. Cpl Kamaruddin then asked, ”How many of you are here ?” The Enemy youth just closed his eyes expecting and waiting for the rounds to slam into his body, from Cpl Kamaruddin’s M16. This was now aimed at his head. 2Lt Panir on seeing this yelled out an order to Cpl Kamaruddin not to kill the Enemy.
He shouted the command repeatedly running towards Cpl Kamaruddin and the Enemy. Cpl Kamaruddin meantime was repeating his earlier question, “Where are your friends ? Where are they regrouping? “No answer was forthcoming from this young Enemy. Cpl Kamaruddin at that moment really wanted to kill this Enemy. He remembered the briefing by the Brigadier that capturing an Enemy would be a bonus. A lot of information could be got from a captured Enemy. 2Lt Panir grabbed the Enemy and led him off. He and the rest of the group took the Enemy to the point of contact.
The surname of the Enemy was Lim, who originated from Tanjung Malim, in Perak. He was educated until Form 3, he could speak English fluently. He instructed for the Enemy to be taken to the edge of the pylon track. He detailed some of his men to guard the Enemy, after that he informed HQ on the Enemy’s capture. A number of Officers from Brigade came down to take away the captured Enemy, they, the Officers from Brigade HQ were very quick about it. No vehicle was sent to carry out the dead Enemy and equipment or extricate them from that location.
They had to carry the dead Enemy and the captured enemy equipment for more than an hour to reach a main road. At that moment they saw a Police Field Force Land Rover, they waved it down and loaded up. They themselves too managed to fit into the Land Rover. They went straight to the Police field Force Camp in Air Kala. Brigadier General Hassan and the CPO of Perak, Yuen Yet Leng were there to greet us. The Brigade Commander and the CPO both congratulated 2Lt Panir. All of them were given a commando dagger. He was then instructed to take the dead Enemy’s body to the Selat Pagar Police Station to make a Police Report.
From the information derived from the captured enemy, the operation was continued; an intensified follow up was conducted. Two more Enemy dead were recovered; this Enemy had died of wounds sustained in the ambush by 2Lt Panir’s team. 2Lt Panir and his men continued the operations, helping the Special Branch for a few more days. After which all of them returned to Taiping, back to where 3rd Rangers was based. They were given two weeks of unrecorded leave along with $1,000, which was shared amongst 5 of them. 2Lt Panir was an exemplary leader willing to listen to the advise of his subordinates.
Willing to take risks, checking out the enemy, not knowing whether he was really dead or wounded, whilst being illuminated by the Artillery in the dark, exposing himself took rare courage. The capturing of the Enemy was an extraordinary feat, captures were very rare, most of the Enemy were killed in the heat of a firefight, those trying days. For valor in the highest traditions of the Ranger Corps, 2Lt Panir Chellvum a/l Velaithan was awarded the “Pingat Gagah Berani” by the King. Like all parents Mr. Velaithan al Ponnusamy and Tanggama ap Munusamy who were the parents of 2Lt Panir were not actually overjoyed that their son was taking up a career in the Army, to top it, in the Corps of Rangers, known at that time for it’s ferocity when meeting up with the Enemy.
Panir Chellvum al Velaithan was born in Kulim, Kedah on the 4th March 1954, because of his interest in a Military career, he immediately after his Malaysian Certificate of Education results, one of the few school cadets, applied to join Intake 25 of the Short Service Commissioned Officers Course at Pre-OCTU (Pre Officer Cadet Training Unit) at Sebatang Karah Camp, Port Dickson. After his initial basic training moved to the Royal Military College in in Sungei Besi.
He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on the 31st October 1974 into the 3rd Battalion Ranger Regiment. 3rd Rangers at that time was based in Taiping. He was given command of No.8 Platoon, of C Company, at that time commanded by Major Jagdish Singh Gill. He was also an athlete as he represented 2nd Brigade Infantry and the Armed Forces at National level athletic meets in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter events. His younger brother too joined the Armed Forces.
He joined the service for the love of the profession; he wanted to serve until his retirement. He was much disciplined and carried himself as an Officer in the highest standards of Military discipline. He excelled in all his Military courses. He was a best student in an Intelligence course. He was not selected to go for an overseas, Advanced Intelligence Course in New Zealand, which was his heart’s desire. Another Officer with lower grades in the same course he had attended together was instead selected. 

That was a bitter disappointment for him, as he was the best student; he was bypassed for someone with a poorer grade. With a heavy heart he decided to leave the service. He did not have much money to start a business nor any paper qualification to start life anew. After he left the service he was accepted to work as a Junior Assistant Manager in Genting Berhad and Harrisons Malaysian Plantation Berhad. He choose to work in Harrisons Malaysian Plantation as a Deputy Security Manager. Currently he is a Manager of a Plantation in that company.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 5:30 AM  
  • At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you major Swami.That was an eye opener.My best regards to panir in his present position. May he and his family be blessed with all the good things in life. Sri, taiping.

  • At 4:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've met Kapt(?)Panir, Bersara, back in 2000, while visiting his Golden Hope oil palm estate in Muar, where he was the manager.Before I met him, I was already informed by my colleague that Kapt Panir is a hero and had been awarded the PGB. It was a very special estate, huge and divided by the Muar River, and having a palm oil mill within it's locallity, and headed by a special person, a Malaysian hero.He was a very humble person even though he was the big boss at that time in the estate. I was really honoured to have met in person a receipient of a gallantry medal. I wish Kapt Panir the best in future undertakings.

  • At 3:50 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Well Done kept.Panir.Im proud to say you are my Anna.

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Well done Anne Kept Panir PGB, I proud to be your brother.

  • At 1:59 AM, Blogger panirpgb said…

    Thanks so much bro for kind words. Pls call me at 0178066455.
    Kind regards,

  • At 1:59 AM, Blogger panirpgb said…


  • At 7:46 AM, Blogger MihHas said…

    He is truly my sifu then, now and forever...a real friend too....bravo chief!!

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