Udupi: I-Day special - Meet nation's pride Commodore Jerome Castelino

Harshini Brahmavar
Pics: Umesh Marpalli

Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (HB)

Udupi, Aug 15: Independence Day is an occasion to remember all those who have served the nation and set an example of patriotism with their dedication and commitment towards the country. While it is everyone's duty to remember the sacrifices of all those who fought for the country's freedom, it is also imperative to recognize those who rendered their selfless service in protecting the nation and ensuring that its citizens spent peaceful days and nights.

On this Independence Day, daijiworld interviewed one such son of the soil from Moodbelle here, who served the Indian Navy for 35 years before retiring 21 years ago.

Meet Commodore Jerome Castelino VSM from Moodubelle, who presently leads a quiet and comfortable life in his native village with his wife Rose Celine.

Active in the Indian Navy from 1953 to 1988, Commodore Jerome Castelino has the distinction of having served on all types of warships including India’s first aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant and has visited 27 foreign countries during his service in the Indian Navy.

Commodore Castelino was the first naval sailor in the Indian Navy to attain the rank of Commodore and the only one from Karnataka state to attain this senior rank. He is the only Naval officer from Udupi district to receive the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) from the President.

Having served in Indian Navy for a long time, Commodore Castelino has been following certain naval routines in his retired life. He has been hoisting the National Flag on daily basis at his residence ‘Vana Sowrabha’. He has also erected a War Memorial in front of his residence in commemoration of the soldiers who had laid down their lives in Goa Liberation War (1961) and Bangladesh Liberation War (1971). He had the opportunity to actively participate in both these liberation wars. The huge anchor installed at the entrance of his house serves as a landmark.

After his retirement from Navy in 1988, Commodore Jerome Castelino worked as general manager at Applied Electronics Ltd in Mumbai for six years. Thereafter, he came down with his wife to his native place, Moodubelle where he started the Lions Club and became its charter president in 1997. He managed to raise funds locally and also obtained a grant from Lions Club International Foundation in USA and built the Lions Seva Bhavan in Moodubelle. He is the recipient of a Certificate of Supreme Excellence from the international president of Lions Club International. He was also conferred the Melvyn Joes Fellowship in 2008 for his active role in Lionism.

Taking into account the vast experience of Commodore Jerome Castelino he was appointed as vice-president of Sainik Board of Udupi and Mangaluru districts for a period of 8 years from 2006 to 2014.

Considering his administrative capabilities, the Bharathi Shipyard took him as an administrative consultant for a period of two years in 2013-14.

Currently, Commodore Jerome Castelino is the dean of St Lawrence Degree College, Moodubelle and secretary of Lions Club, Moodubelle.

Among the three children of Commodore Jerome Castelino, two sons are engineers and presently working in the USA and his daughter is holding the post of deputy general manager in one of the reputable banks in Mumbai.

During the interview with daijiworld, Commodore Jerome Castelino spoke on a number of subjects, from his career in the Indian Navy, his opinion on the reluctance of the youth to join armed services and much more.


Q: How did you join the Indian Navy?

A: In February 1953, the naval recruiting team from Bengaluru came to Udupi and was camping at the Circuit House. At that time, apart from a teaching job, I was also doing my shorthand and typing course at the Modern School of Commerce, Udupi. Its principal, late Madhavan took me to the Circuit House and introduced me to the recruiting officer. After undergoing various tests for about eight hours, I was the only one out of 23 youths who was selected. I was asked to go to Bengaluru on March 3, 1953 where I was recruited as a sailor thein Indian Navy.

Q: What was the happiest moment of your life?

A: The happiest moment in my life was when at the midnight of January 25, 1984, a postman knocked at my door in Mumbai and handed over a telegram. Though I was perturbed to receive a telegram at an odd time, the contents of the telegram surprised and overwhelmed me. The telegram was from the defence minister conveying the news that I was awarded the Vishist Seva Medal (VSM) by the then President of India Zail Singh, for my distinguished and meritorious service in Indian Navy.

Q: How do you feel having served as a soldier?

A: I am proud to have been a soldier, having had opportunities to actively participate in Goa Liberation War (1961), Indo-Pak War (1965) and Bangla Liberation War (1971). However, I am pained to mention that especially in Karnataka except during war, our soldiers are not respected during peace time and after retirement. They are not given the respect and honour that they deserve by the administration. Their welfare and well-being are not given sufficient attention by the state government. There have been certain instances in which some of the ex-servicemen have been subjected to insults and humiliation.

Q: How did your family support you during your service in the Indian Navy?

A: Family is a part of military service except in forward areas. My family has been a great support and much of the time involved in my professional life. At the same time my family has undergone a lot of hardship and inconvenience. Frequent transfers affected children’s education and adjustment to new places had been difficult. But I am proud to say that my wife Rose has faced all challenges without any complaint but with a smile on her face. Transfers are part of a soldier’s profession.

Q: Nowadays the number of youth joining armed forces is decreasing. What advice can you offer to the youth?

A: There is a tendency among the youth to seek lucrative careers and easy life. As a result, our youth are reluctant to join the armed forces which demand rigorous training, exemplary discipline and a sense of sacrifice. However, I would like to emphasize that the emoluments and perks offered to the soldiers and officers in armed forces generally match with the salaries offered in some of the corporate sector. In Karnataka, the youth are not fully aware of the importance of service in armed forces. Colleges and educational institutions should create awareness about the armed forces. Serving the nation is a very respectable and honourable job. In the armed forces there are ample opportunities to display, bravery, courage, leadership qualities and patriotism. Even for girls in all the three wings of the armed forces there are opportunities in the officers’ cadre.

Q: What are your thoughts on One Rank One Pension scheme?

A: The One Rank One Pension scheme was promised by the central government 40 years ago. It is very painful to say that all the governments that came to power since then have failed to keep this promise. The retired soldiers hoped and believed in the present government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But even he has failed to fulfil his promises even after 15 months of being PM.

Hence, unfortunately all the ex-servicemen have been forced to take up the path of agitation by resorting to relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, Delhi for the last 50 days and also in other places throughout India. According to Kautilya, the ancient Indian Political thinker, ‘the emperor who cannot look after his soldiers has no right to be an emperor’. God knows when the government will fulfil its promises on One Rank One Pension. Till then the present agitation will continue.

Q: What message would you like to give to our youngsters?

A: Today’s youth need to apply their mind and heart towards studies and extra-curricular activities seriously to face the challenges of life. They should work hard from day one and keep themselves informed about various situations where they live. They need to develop patriotism and love for their motherland. They also need to show concern for their parents, elders and teachers. They should insulate themselves from those forces which are against their own personal growth, humanity, society and nation.


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Comment on this article

  • Arthur Ronald D'souza, Abu Dhabi / Belman

    Mon, Aug 24 2015

    Proud to say that I have close relatives Who have retired from Indian navy Commodore ARB D'Souza of Udupi and Major General Noel Rasquinha Of Bombay of Mangalorean Origin and his Son at age of thirty is Major In the Indian Army.

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  • Praveen Mendonca, kulshekar mangalore

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    Proud of you Uncle Jerry and Aunty Rose

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr. Santosh Pinto, Bijay/Germany

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    The naval review of the life of Uncle Jerry(as we used to call him)in your interview reflects his farsight as Commodore who had recognised the need for new directions in professional as well as in the strategic fields among the youth of India today.As regards his opinion regarding the failing promises of the Indian government I perfectly agree with Uncle Jerry. In fact its only the armed forces of India who are strictly following the path of Virtues, once taught them by the British Officers, namely the the 3 'D's-Discipline, Duty and Dedication towards their fellow citizens than the Indian Politicians. They should take an example of men like Uncle Jerry. I am very proud of Uncle Jerry and aunty Rosie. Even though I have not seen them for the last 52 years I still cherish the wonderful memories of my childhood at Bijay and the time they spent with us. It was in May 1963 during the summer holidays I visited them last and as we entered the house we met uncle Jerry in his naval Uniform. He said, he is very sorry that he won't be there with us that evening since he has been invited for dinner on INS Vikranth, with Lord Mountbatten who was visiting India on defence talk. I thought to myself Uncle Jerry must be a Great Man. Yes he is! My congratulations to both Uncle Jerry and aunty Rosie. Here I wish them both God's choicest blessings in all their projects and above all the best of health to carry on!

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  • Juliet Mascarenhas, Bejai

    Mon, Aug 17 2015

    I have not seen you ever since you left to Germany.Nice to hear of you through Daiji.Of course I keep meeting Arun,Vijay,Prakash,Jawahar and Ranjan.
    Best Wishes

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  • Hindustani, Manipal/Dubai

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    A big salute from bottom of my heart!

    Jai Hind!

    DisAgree [1] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Aubb, Kuwait

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    Thanks to DW's effort in locating such outstanding people from our region.

    Salute to commodore Jerome Castelino !!

    Jai Jawan, Jai Kissan!!

    Jai Hind!!

    DisAgree Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Aubb, Kuwait

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    My dad was an Ex-Sgt in the British era Indian Army too.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • luca dsilva, Mudarangadi, Udipi

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    First I salute u for being reached to the Commodore rank and being awarded with VSM to our native Soldier. Your hard work and dedication of life to the nation are really great during service and after retired life.
    From Ex Sgt

    DisAgree Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Charles D'Mello, Pangala

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Commodore Jerome Castelino...I salute you for the service you have done to Mother India.

    DisAgree Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Thomas D'Mello, Kundapura, Kundapura

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    As a Ex-sailor from the Indian Navy, I am proud of our senior officer from Udupi district. While I do career guidance programs to the youth, I always tell the youth to join as Officers in the armed forces. I discourage people to join in the lower ranks.
    I hope you understand the reasons.

    DisAgree Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • paul dsouza, balakunje

    Sat, Aug 15 2015


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  • Ambrose D'Mello, Pangala / Mumbai

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    I salute you Commodore Castelino. Knowing you personally, the wonderful work that you are doing specially for the needy and less privileged - you are indeed our pride and a role model.

    DisAgree Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Stany & Josehine Dsouza, Mumbai / Miyyar

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Dear Cmde Castelino. We are very proud of you sir as is the entire Mangalorean community. Me and my wife Jessy remember the pleasant moments we had with you on the occasion of the silver wedding anniversary of our good friend Cmde Valentine Sequeira in Kirem. God bless you and your wife

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  • Juliet Mascarenhas, Bejai

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Very interesting to read your achievements Commodore Jerome Castelino. Hats off to you.What impressed me more was your dedication to serve the society after retirement through Lionism.Serving as a Charter President and current secretary of Lions Club Moodubelle proves your enthusiasm at this age to serve the Nation through Lionism .May almighty bless you and your beloved wife a long life with health and happiness
    Yours in Lionism
    Lion Juliet Mascarenhas IPP Lions Club - Mangalore -Balmatta.

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  • Francis J. Saldanha, Moodubelle / Bahrain

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our country and make it a better place. One such personality comes to my mind is our own son of the soil from Moodubelle is Commodore Jerome Castelino VSM. I am indeed proud of him more so because he comes from Moodubelle, Udupi district. A great human being, a truly family man and above all after his retirement working tirelessly for the society especially through Lions Club Moodubelle. Hats off to you Commodore Jerome Castelino for your achievements in life. It is the sprit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure to make what you are. Thank you Daijiworld for publishing his interview to know more about Commodore Castelino especially on a day we Indians feel proud to celebrate our country’s Independence Day!

    DisAgree Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr Mohan Prabhu, mangalore/ottawa

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    It's wonderful to read your story and dedication to protection of India through impeccable naval service. Congratulations on all your achievements and wish you and your wife many more years of retired life. This is from one daiji to another (perhaps there is some connection - my family name is also Castelino from Makhale, Cordel, Mangalore 1770- ).

    DisAgree Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • Pius Vas, Bandra

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Dear Cmde Castelino. We are proud of you as is the entire Mangalorean community of united district of Dakshina Kannada. Me and my wife Genny remember the pleasant moments we had with you along with our dear friend and cousin Cmde Valentine Sequeira. God bless you and your wife

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    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Hats off to this great soul Castelino sir.Freedom in Mind, Faith in Words Pride in our Heart, Memories in our Souls. Let’s Salute the Nation on Happy Independence Day

    DisAgree [1] Agree [36] Reply Report Abuse

  • Gangaram, Moodbidri

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Salute Commodore Castelino sir!!

    DisAgree [2] Agree [31] Reply Report Abuse

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Title: Udupi: I-Day special - Meet nation's pride Commodore Jerome Castelino

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