Vishnu Schalchendia Pandit, 61, of North Potomac

One month before he was gunned down in the Navy Yard rampage, Vishnu Pandit had celebrated the birth of his first grandchild, a baby girl.

"It's heartbreaking," M. Nuns Jain, a longtime friend, said, standing outside Pandit's home in North Potomac, in Montgomery County.

Jain first met Pandit more than 40 years ago when they were midshipmen at India's elite technical college, the Directorate of Maritime Engineering Training in Calcutta. Jain even remembers the date the two met while enrolling in a class of about 100: Aug. 10, 1969. The two had remained close over the years as Pandit worked in the U.S. shipbuilding industry and began working for the U.S. Navy in the early 1980s.

Pandit, who went by "Kisan," loved dogs and immigrated to the U.S. in 1974 "in search of a better life for his family," according to a biography released by his family.

He had a wife, two adult children and grandchildren. His family described him as "a kind and gentle man" who loved his family and friends. Pandit grew up in Mumbai, India, and moved to the U.S. to finish his degree at the University of Michigan. Pandit was proud of his work, his family said.

"Kisan felt extremely privileged to have contributed to the superiority of the U.S. Navy and the country that he served," the family wrote.

In the Navy Yard complex, a one-hour commute from his home, Pandit studied ways to improve the Navy's ships.

"He was a fantastic person, loving, caring, very dedicated. He loved his work," Jain said.

Friends and relatives occasionally drove up to the tan two-story home on Tuesday morning, carrying groceries and dishes of food inside for Pandit's family.

A neighbor two doors down the street from Pandit's house teared up when talking about him and his wife.

"They are two of the most wonderful people you could know," she said, as she coaxed her dog into the garage. "They would do anything for their neighbors," she said. The woman declined to give her name.

The family asked for privacy and said they would hold a private Hindu funeral for Pandit. The family asked that memorial donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, any charitable organization supporting the U.S. Navy, or the Humane Society of Montgomery County.

--Brian Bennett, Tribune Washington Bureau and Carrie Wells

Handout photo
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