A ceremony was held today to felicitate Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Pathman Hariprasadha Mendis, popularly known as “Paddy Mendis” to mark the 50th anniversary of him assuming office as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force (then Royal Ceylon Air Force).
Air Chief Marshal PH Mendis was appointed as the 4th Commander of the Royal Ceylon Air Force on the 1st of January 1971, exactly 50 years ago.
He was the first Ceylonese Officer to command the Royal Ceylon Air Force. In 1972, the RCAF changed its name to the Sri Lanka Air Force along with its entire insignia and Air vice Marshal PH Mendis became the first commander of SLAF.
The special felicitation ceremony was arranged held at the Air Force Museum located at SLAF Base Ratmalana under the supervision of the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana.
The Guest of Honour , Secretary of Defence, General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd) made a special address where he appreciated and congratulated Air Chief Marshal Mendis (Retd) on reaching this historic milestone.
Air Chief Marshal Mendis (Retd) was then presented with a special memento in the form of an Air Force Ceremonial Sword and also another special memento by the Guest of Honour General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd).
Air Chief Marshal Mendis (Retd) also made an address to the distinguished gathering where he took the audience back in time to the days when he served in the Air Force.
He also thanked the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana for organizing an event.
Air Chief Marshal Mendis was born on the 24th of January 1933.He joined the newly formed Royal Ceylon Air Force (RCAF) as its fifth recruit on the 8th of August 1951. After enlistment, then Officer Cadet Mendis was sent to Britain for training at the prestigious Royal Air Force College in Cranwell. In 1959, then Flight Lieutenant Mendis was sent to the RAF Central Flying School to be trained as Flying Instructors at RAF Little Rissington in Gloucestershire. He was the first Ceylonese to be trained as a Qualified Flying Instructor.