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Reportage: Archana Masih| Photograph: Seema Pant

Major Sudhir Walia's story is one that will make you proud.

As a child he walked to school which did not have a uniform because its pupils often could not afford one. He sat on the floor on a coarse mat and first told his mother he wanted to join the army in class II.

Every day on his way to school he saw other children in smart red uniforms going to some other school. He liked the bright colour and asked his father why couldn't he go to a school like that.

'The children of my officers go to that school, you can only go to such a school if you study very, very hard,' explained Rulia Ram to his son.

Sudhir did just that.

In class V, he went to Jalandhar in Punjab to appear for an entrance test for admission to military school. He cleared the test and secured admission to military school in Sujanpur Tira, 40 kilometres from Banuri village, where his family lives.

The school had been inaugurated by India's sixth President, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, and was created to train its students for a career in the armed forces.

One of its other students was Sanjeev Jamwal who many years later would lead a brilliant assault in Kargil to recapture the highest point on Tololing Ridge alongside Captain Vikram Batra, the courageous soldier honoured with India's highest gallantry award for action in Kargil.

On finishing class X, Sudhir Walia passed the exam for the National Defence Academy and was called to Bangalore for an interview.

He asked his father for Rs 2,000 for the long trip. Rulia Ram gave him Rs 3,000.

Also see: Kargil's first hero
The soldier who became a legend

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