During the 1965 war with Pakistan, Kodandera M. Cariappa (Field Marshal)’s son K C Cariappa was a Squadron Leader. He was shot down while carrying out air attacks in Pakistan and was taken prisoner. On realizing the identity of the wounded soldier, Radio Pakistan immediately announced his safe capture. Pakistani General Ayub Khan himself contacted Field Marshal Cariappa, who was living a retired life at his hometown, with information about his son’s safety. When Gen. Khan offered to release his son immediately, Field Marshal is reported to have scoffed at the idea and told him to give his son no better treatment than any other POW. “He is my son no longer.” the old Soldier is reported to have thundered. “He is the child of this country, a soldier fighting for his motherland like a true patriot. My many thanks for your kind gesture, but I request you to release all or release none. Give him no special treatment,” the Field Marshal is reported to have said. He also said “The POWs are all my sons, look after them well.”
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Motivational Story – When Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa rejected offer made by General Ayub Khan
It was unheard of for Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa to use his power and status for personal purposes. Once Cariappa went to the Rajput Regimental Centre to pay farewell before he retired. He brought his son and daughter with him, and both of them stayed at the commandant’s house till the next day. According to the rules, children were forbidden to attend the officers’ mess. As chief Cariappa might have taken them to the mess but he did not.
Story – When Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa preferred not to break the rules for personal choices
After he was the C-in-C (Commander-in-chief), he wanted then Major Srinivas Kumar Sinha to be his aide-de-camp (military assistant). The military secretary noted that a military assistant must hold the rank of lieutenant colonel which required a minimum of six-and-a-half years of service. Sinha was only a major with five years of service. On learning this, Cariappa backed off the idea not wanting to break the rules.
Story of Kodandera M. Cariappa becoming Commander-in-Chief even when Defence Minister was not in his favor
When Lieutenant General Sir Roy Bucher’s appointment as the C-in-C of the Indian Army was about to expire in January 1949, it was decided to replace him with an Indian. Cariappa, Shrinagesh, and Nathu Singh were the contenders for the post. Though Shrinagesh was six months older than Cariappa, he had not served as long as Cariappa had; Nathu Singh had served two-and-a-half years less. But the Interim Government’s Defence Minister Baldev Singh was not in favour of Cariappa. He contacted Shrinagesh and Nathu Singh asking for their opinion of being appointed as C-in-C. Since both declined the offer, Cariappa took over as the first native commander-in-chief of the Indian Army.
Several measures taken by Kodandera M. Cariappa (Field Marshal), such as his refusal to induct former Indian National Army personnel into the Army, kept the organization out of political affairs and maintained its autonomy.