Bengaluru: Vijayalakshmi Ramanan, the first woman officer of the Indian Air Force (IAF), wing commander passed away on Sunday, October 18. She was 96.

Vijayalakshmi was seconded to the IAF and became the first commissioned officer and served for 24 years. Her son-in-law SVL Narayan stated that until 2013 she lived independently with just one helper at her home in Ulsoor. "She subsequently moved in with us but was still robust and energetic until last week, when she unexpectedly collapsed. She was admitted to the Indian Air Force's command hospital, where her condition was stabilized. When the end came on Sunday evening, it was peaceful," he said.

Vijayalakshmi was born in February 1924. In 1955, she had joined the Indian Army which was a short-service commission before which she was an obstetrician and gynaecologist by profession.

Vijayalakshmi was posted to air force hospitals in Jalahalli, Kanpur, Secunderabad and Bengaluru. In the years 1962, 1966 and 1971 when war broke out, she helped treat wounded troops and airmen. By 1979, her year of retirement she held the rank of Wing Commander.

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The late IAF officer was awarded the Vishist Seva medal by president Neelam Sanjiva Reddy for her meritorious service.

Her son-in-law revealed that Vijayalakshmi primarily identified herself as a doctor. "She was a skilled Carnatic musician. In the years before joining the air force, she was an AIR artiste from the age of 15. While studying medicine at Madras College in the 1940s, she represented her college at music competitions. For All India Radio, she broadcasted regularly from Delhi, Lucknow, Secunderabad and Bengaluru," Narayan said.