Air Marshal(Retd) Denzil Joseph Keelor, Vr.C, Indian Airforce

Air Marshal(Retd) Denzil Joseph Keelor, AVSM, KC, VSM, Vr.C

On 19th September 1965, Sqn Ldr Denzil Keelor was providing fighter escort to Mystere aircraft during a strike mission in the operations against Pakistan. His section of four Gnat aircraft was engaged by four enemy Sabre jet aircraft and the battle was fought at a height of less than 2,000 feet from the ground where enemy anti-aircraft guns were also active.

Under his guidance, his subsection leader shot down a Sabre jet aircraft. Thereafter Sqn Ldr Keelor himself engaged another Sabre jet and crippled it. Throughout the operations, Sqn Ldr Keelor was a source of inspiration to his pilots and ground personnel. His courage and devotion to duty were in the best traditions of the Air Force. For this he was awarded the Vir Chakra.

On 27 March 1978, the canopy of his type 77 Mig-21 aircraft flew off at high altitude, but Gp Capt Keelor brought back the aircraft to the base where he executed a safe emergency landing. Again on 17 May 1978, a 23mm high explosive shell burst which damaged the aircraft and caused total electrical failure. He returned to the airfield and executed a safe landing with very high professional skill and courage. For this he was awarded the Kirti Chakra.