It is not easy to adorn the uniform. It takes years to make a hardcore soldier. It is just not the tough training that forges one but also camradiere that help each cadet sail through toughest of times during training to turn to be men from boys. Cadets keep rolling, running, jumping, pumping on the floors waiting for dawn and it is only their comrades who witness this all. These are also the comrades who wipe out the tears or boost the morale when the other feels like giving up. They forge a bond so special that stays for a lifetime. And ‘they’ are called ‘Course-mates’, Brother in Arms. No word can describe the pain of losing your brother in arms, no grief is bigger for a course than losing one among the coursemates. The coursemates who are bound by the bonds of camaraderie,hardship,friendship and affection. The coursemates of Lt Colonel Robert TA Kuba are mourning his untimely departure after hoping and praying for his safe return from the snow where he was buried for long. He is the first one from their batch to lay down his life on the line of duty for mother nation. While they are proud they are equally crestfallen.
No ‘The Messi of the batch’ can not go away like this,not so soon.
It was only sometimes back they had a word together when he said also posted as whatsapp status
‘Hope for the Best,but prepare for the Worst’
was that the hint or just a philosophy Robert followed all his life,the soldier from Maram Naga community.
Do you know what that mean to be a soldier from Maram Naga community? That means you are the best and you fought against all the odds to reach where you were before embracing a glorified death, a very few get.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert TA Kuba from Manipur’s Senapati district, son of Thuiba Angelus, was the first army officer from Maram Naga community who had joined the Indian Army through the technical background. He was a TES (Technical Entry Scheme) entry to Indian Army, so tough that you need to get minimum 70% marks in Physics, Chemistry,Maths (PCM) to be even eligible for sitting for the exam. Imagine a young boy, eldest of among eight siblings at ‘Maram’ village’ which falls in between Imphal and Kohima with big dreams in his eyes; almost impossible ones.
In 2008, Lt Col Robert was awarded the Vice-Chief of the Army Staff Commendation after his squad under his leadership as a captain completed in the prestigious Army Adventure Challenge Cup and emerged as winner.
In 2017, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, the first person among the Maram community to hold the position
He was also one of the best from his batch, an ever smiling, quiet and affectionate person as his coursemates remember. The golden boy was known as ‘Ronaldo’ of the batch. One of the coursemates shared with me
“I don’t know how to react. Extremely sad and broken. I remember Roberta holding rum glass and singing Bryan Adams. It is an unbearable loss to us and to Indian Army. RIP Brother.”
“He was a true Sultan,loved by all. I still remember him dropping two goals on Cadet Training Wing MCEME. No words to express the grief of having lost a brother amongst us.”
Here is Lieutenant Colonel Robert TA 's coursemates heartfelt tribute to their 'brother in arms' written by one of the officers very close to Lt COlonel Robert representing the sentiments of entire squad.
Little Ronaldo died today
As sick it feels to think of all the moments spent with him on and off the pitch of life, the kick goes past my helpless mind standing in the goal-post of life.
‘Lt Col Robert TA was the name given to our brother in arms. We knew him as ROBO. ‘
The short guy from Maram in Manipur, the quiet guy who made it in spite of humble roots. He was the most loved amongst us all. One could simply miss him in a room, so quiet was his demeanor and so gentle were his ways but give him a football and you can only but chase the dazzling footwork and precise kicks. The world would fall down at his feet and praise when he kicked and played Football.
He was the little Ronaldo from Maram.
But that was not all, he sang like there was no tomorrow. You will be mesmerised by his guitar skills as well. Together, we spent years trying to get through the rigors of military training; From one meal to the next and one sleep to the next, Robo never did mind. He knew, he was meant to be officer of the Indian Armed Forces and a remarkable one at that. Commissioned into the Madras Sappers, the officer and gentleman rose to every fight, every operation and lived by a simple motto –
–We are the Army – this means ‘More’ –
Robo was right there when the snow storm closed the roads. He knew, it wasn’t just a road, it was a life line for all across. He lead his team which followed him happily and with pride. As the snow caved in, Robo did what he knew best. He came between death and his team and simply took a red card for the team.
Little Ronaldo sacrificed his life today. He leaves a family and his band of brothers alone on the pitch. He will be missed. Every time a football would touch the fields of Cadets Training Wing, his name will echo. Although no sculptured marble should rise to his memory, nor engraved stone bear record of his deeds, yet will his remembrance be as lasting as the land he honored.Like many that gave up their lives for this motherland. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made.
He made the ultimate sacrifice along with another soldier from his patrolling team Sapper Sapala Shanmukha Rao. 18 soldiers, including three officers, were on a patrolling cum snow clearance duty when the sudden avalanche struck in the mountainous Lugnak La region of North Sikkim. “In spite of the best efforts of the rescue team of the Indian Army and local formation, an officer Lt Col Robert TA and a soldier who were trapped under the ice lost their lives,” said the Indian Army in a statement
Lt Colonel Robert TA is survived by wife Mrs P Chingpai,two daughters five year old Pungdila Deborah and two year old Hinga along with his father,mother,five brothers and two sisters. While friends and family mourn the death of a beloved it harshly remind us the sacrifices made by soldiers on daily basis in line of duty. It also tell us how a soldiers life is filled with unseen dangers and unpredictable threats. The snow was not thick and the officer was buried under the snow for approximately 9 hours. He might just not mean anything to you but he was and he will always be special to his friends and family who remember him as one true Sultan whose last words to one a dear friends were
“Everyone is good in his or her way.It is all about perception.Better to lead a satisfied life than a successful life.”
Here is a message for family that you have lost your beloved Roberta but never for a second feel yourselves alone. Us, the brothers in arms are always there for Roberta’s family in every thick and thin because this is what ‘Band of brothers’ do …Stick!
Disclaimer: Views are personal and names of the serving personnel can not be published over protocols.