The Indian Army's bravehearts made their presence felt in the 2019 Desert Storm in a big way, winning the team trophies in two out of the three categories that they competed in.
The Team Army Adventure Wing's Lt. Col. Aman Katoch and co-driver Capt. Siddhartha Nandal surpassed expectations, claiming the second runners' up trophy in the Ndure category late on Saturday.
The duo even elicited the biggest applause as they stepped forward to take their reward, dressed up in their uniforms, at the glittering prize distribution ceremony.
Their most experienced driver Lt. Col. Shakti Bajaj too was given a heroic welcome as he and co-driver Aditya Chand annexed the tenth position in the Xtreme Category.
The Army's women participants Major Euthica and navigator Tejal Parashare (Extreme category), Manisha Gaind and Major K Renuka (Mott) were without doubt the cynosure of all eyes on all four days as they faced the heat of the desert with courage and composure.
Indeed, Team Army evoked awe and admiration when it arrived for the ceremonial start in New Delhi on May 7, with each of their decorated men and women turning up in their army outfits and shining vehicles. They fielded as many as 10 teams in the Xtreme Category and three in the Moto, making it the largest contingent in the Desert Storm.
"The Army denotes strength, integrity and activeness," Major Euthica, a mother of a two-year-old, said.
"All of us are here on official duty. It is a great endeavour by the Army Adventure Wing to send its soldiers to try out new avenues and to push their limits.
"I got into rallying just last 11 months back, about a year after my baby was born. And I must say I am rediscovering myself. As an Army officer, I feel pleased to be part of any physical activity and give out my best."
Lt. Col. Shakti Bajaj has been rallying for over a decade now and is a great example of a true soldier. He reckoned that the Army was proud of competing in endurance sport that can double up as training and also help build camaraderie.
Major K. Renuka of Army Service Corps recently became the first woman biker from the Army to scale the 18,176 ft Karakoram Pass.
"We feel proud. As women, we want to send out the message that nothing is impossible. To all the women out there, I would say come out and compete," Major Euthica declared.
"Do not stop, get out of self-imposed restrictions. Embrace the world and its challenges. It's waiting to accept the new you."
Added Major Renuka, also a mother of a two-year-old, "As Army people, we do not know how to give up. I think we carry such similarities on to the field of sport and competition and that stands out for us."