Bir Sreshtho Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman
Matiur Rahman was a Flight Lieutenant and a recipient of “Bir Sreshtho”, Bangladesh's highest military gallantry award for his utmost bravery during the Liberation War of Bangladesh.
Matiur Rahman was born on 29 October 1941 in 109, Old Dhaka Aga Sadek Road, in his ancestral houses "Mobarok Lodge". His father was Maulvi Abdus Samad and his mother was Syeda Khatun Mobarakunnesa. Among nine brothers and two sisters, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman was the sixth. His family was a solvent and middle class educated family. Matiur Rahman was very good in sport and other co-curricular activities. He developed a very good team spirit and comradeship from the very school life.
He completed his primary education at Dhaka Collegiate School. After that he was admitted into Pakistan Air Force School Sargodha in West Pakistan. On 15th August 1961, he joined Pakistan Air Force Academy (former Pakistan Air Force College) at Risalpur. On 22 June 1963, Matiur Rahman was commissioned as a Pilot Officer from the 36th GD(P) Course and was posted at No. 2 Squadron of Mauripur Air Base (now Masroor Air Base) at Karachi in West Pakistan. After that he successfully completed the Jet Conversion Training on T-33 jet trainers in that base. He successfully passed the course with a mark of 75.66% and was earmarked for Fighter Conversion Training. Fighter Conversion Training took place in F-86 Sabre Jets, this course he passed with a mark of 81%. He was posted in Peshawar (in No.19 Squadron) due to his bright result in the Fighter Conversion Course. His rank was Flying Officer during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. After the war, he went back to Sargodha to attend the Mig Conversion Course. He was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant in 1967.
Matiur Rahman and his family went to Dhaka for a two-month vacation at the end of January, 1971. He was staying in the village of Ramanagar in Raypur during the military operation of 25 March 1971 conducted by the Pakistan army in the name of “Operation Searchlight”. Despite being a member of the PAF, Rahman opened a training camp in Vairab and started training Bengali people who were willing to join the Mukti Bahini. He formed a small defense force with the willing members and a few collected weapons. His camp was bombed by the PAF on 14 April 1971. But Rahman anticipated the attack beforehand and changed the place of his camp. Thus, his crew and he was saved from the bombing. Rahman returned to Dhaka on 23 April and then returned to Karachi on 9 May with his family.
On 20 August, 1971 he attempted to hijack a T-33 trainer from Karachi, Pakistan to India in order to defect from the Pakistan Air Force and join the Liberation movement of Bangladesh. After taking the control of the plane, Rahman was flying it below the usual altitude to deceive the radar. However, Flt Lt Matiur Rahman could not take the plane out of Pakistani territory. The plane crashed in Thatta, 40 kilometres from the Indian border, because of the struggle to regain control of the plane by Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas. His body, which was found near the crash site, was buried at the military graveyard at Masroor Air Base. Matiur’s widow, Milly Rahman, and his two infant daughters were imprisoned for a month by Pakistan Air Force, and were released on September 29, 1971.
After over 30 years of negotiations, Flight Lieutetant Matiur Rahman’s body was finally returned to Bangladesh on 24 June, 2006 for a ceremonial and highly symbolic reburial in 2006. He was buried at the Martyred Intellectuals Graveyard, in Mirpur, Dhaka, with full military honours. The Bangladesh Air Force's Air Base at Jashore is also named after him. BAF also gives out a trophy named after him for best performance in the flying training.