When the Indian Army was looking for volunteers for the defence of Ladakh during the 1947-48 Jammu and Kashmir operation, one of those who volunteered was class 9 student named Chewang Rinchen. After undergoing training he helped raise the Nubra Guards.
In September 1948 he was detailed to capture an enemy post in hostile terrain. He lede his men over a 5200- meter- high mountain to accomplish the task, in the course of which he inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.
Three months later when he was assigned the task of clearing out the last enemy position in Leh, he had to cross 7040-mettre high mountain. Most of his men developed frostbite but kept on going, inspired by the never-say-die attitude of their leader. The enemy had not expected an attack from that side and was routed with heavy casualties.
Jemadar Chewang Richen was awarded the Mahavir Chakra.At 17, he was the youngest soldier to get the award. Years later during the Indo-Pak war of 1971 Major Rinchen was to collect yet another Mahavir Chakra, for leadership and bravery.