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Son of Second World War hero praises appeal to install statue of his father
THE son of a Second World War hero has praised an appeal to install a statue of his father in Gravesend town centre.
Satinder Pujji, 61, says the Pujji Memorial Appeal, set up by Gravesham Council, is a fitting tribute to his father RAF Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji.
So far, £70,000 has been pledged for the £100,000 appeal, with cheques and cash being donated to the council by the public at its launch this week.
Mr Pujji of Kensington said: “We’re thrilled.
“People are very generous and helpful in Gravesend.
“It will be a fitting tribute to my father and the Asian community in Gravesend to have a statue of an Indian Sikh fighter pilot.”
Squadron Leader Pujji died at Darent Valley Hospital aged 92 on September 18 2010 after suffering a stroke at his home in The Grove, Gravesend.
His heroics included rescuing 300 American soldiers who were surrounded by Japanese troops in the jungle of Burma, which won him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
His military achievements led to him meeting world leaders such as Winston Churchill, Gandhi, King Farouk of Egypt, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.
Mr Pujji says he is honoured his father is being remembered in such a way.
The father-of-two said: “It’s a privilege they have chosen my dad of all the people who died in the First and Second World Wars.
“He loved Gravesend.
“He used to say to his mother and father that if he died in the Second World War, he would not like to be flown back to India, even though the bodies of others would be repatriated.
“He wanted to be cremated in England, so he got his final wish.
“He was proud to be fighting for a good cause and a loving country.”
The memorial statue is proposed to be installed at the junction of Pelham Road and Darnley Road.