Col Sonam Wangchuk, hailing from Khakshal, part of Leh, Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir), was born in 1964 at Sankar. On being commissioned from Officers Training Academy Chennai, he joined 4 Assam involved in counter insurgency operations in Ukhrul, Manipur and thereafter contributed significantly in other the military operations.
In May 1999, while serving as a Company Commander in Ladakh Scouts and deployed in Op Vijay in extremely challenging conditions of high altitude, with steep slopes and snow, Major Sonam Wangchuk, leading his team with indomitable courage and steely determination, captured a dominating pass at Chorbatla in Western Ladakh. This was the first operational success, which carved the initial turnaround of military events in that intense three months long “limited war”.
His citation reads: On 30 May 1999, Major Sonam Wangchuk was leading a column of The Indus Wing, Ladakh Scouts as a part of ongoing operations in Op VIJAY in the Batalik Sector. The column was tasked to occupy Ridge Line on the Line of Control in a glaciated area at a height of about 5,500 metres. This was essential so as to pre-empt its occupation by the enemy and any subsequent infiltration. While moving towards the Line of Control, the enemy ambushed the column by firing from a vantage position. In the process, one NCO of The Ladakh Scouts was killed. Major Sonam Wangchuk held his column together and in a daring counter ambush, led a raid on the enemy position from a flank, killing two enemy soldiers. The officer also recovered one heavy machine gun and one Universal Machine Gun, ammunition, controlled stores and three dead bodies of the enemy personnel. Thereafter, the officer took stock of all forces along the Chorbatla axis in the Batalik Sector and cleared the axis up to the Line of Control of all enemy intrusions at great risk to his life. Major Sonam Wangchuk displayed exceptional bravery and gallantry of the highest order in the presence of enemy fire and in extreme climatic conditions in the glaciated area.
Sonam Wangchuk deserves a tribute for holding his column together as his troops crawled upwards and boldly raided the enemy position. The retrieved bodies of the intruders confirmed them to be Pakistan army regulars. His courageous act stymied a critical intrusion by the enemy and successfully foiled designs for occupation of the dominating ridgeline in this area.
Gen VP Malik, then Chief of the Army Staff praised the stellar role of Col Wangchuk in the resounding victory against the well entrenched and advantageously positioned enemy in difficult terrain and hostile weather conditions and conferred COAS Commendation, the first in that war. Later, he was awarded the Mahavir Chakra and Ladakh Scouts was awarded Unit Citation for displaying an exclusive blend of military skills in the Batalik sector during Op Vijay