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Air Marshal Jafar Zaheer

Service No 3173 Branch F(P)
Date of Birth: 14 Jun 1923
Date Commissioned 27 Sep 1943 Course 18 Course
Service End Retired on 30 Jun 1979 / Died on 23 Jan 2008
Remarks : later DGCA
Promotions Gazetted
Sqn Ldr : 01 Oct 1954Wg Cdr : 01 Oct 1962Acting Gp Capt : 15 Jan 1964Gp Capt : 01 Oct 1966
Acting Air Cmde : 01 Apr 1968Air Cmde : 01 Oct 1969AVM : 01 Apr 1976Air Marshal : 01 May 1978
C-in-C : 24 Aug 1978
Google the Bharat Rakshak Website for : "J Zaheer"
Notes: 1) Ranks shown are substantive ranks at retirement. 2)Branch is at retirement and may not match with branch at Commission 3)Notional seniority is reflected in dates of substantive rank.

Appointments, Postings & Other Service Particulars

01 Feb 1947 - Fg OffrNo. 9 Squadron, RIAF 
01 Jan 1953 - 01 Dec 1954Sqn LdrNo.4 SquadronJamnagar CO
17 Nov 1969 - 19 Jan 1973Air Cmde4 WingAgra AOC
01 Dec 1974 - 01 Jan 1978AVMAir Head QuartersDelhi ACAS( Plans)
20 May 1977 - 23 Aug 1978Air MshlAir Head QuartersDelhi DCAS
24 Aug 1978 - 19 Jan 1979Air MshlMaintenance CommandNagpur AOC-in-C
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Awards and Decorations

Number of Awards: 2
Ati Vishist Seva Medal
Air CmdeJafar Zaheer3173 F(P)Award Date 26 Jan 1972Announced 26 Jan 1972
Details : Citation / Details Not Available
Unit : AFS Agra
Reference :
Param Vishist Seva Medal
AVMJafar Zaheer3173 F(P)Award Date 26 Jan 1976Announced 26 Jan 1976
Details : Citation / Details Not Available
Unit :
Reference :

Accidents and Incidents: 2

DateAircraft TypeTail NoPilot/CrewUnitRemarks
20 Feb 1947Spitfire XIVeNH803Fg Offr Jafar Zaheer
9BL at Nagpur
27 Apr 1947Spitfire XIVeRN192Fg Offr J Zaheer
9engine cut on ferryflt BL in field near Kunkurali,

Additional Notes

Remarks: Wg Cdr Walter Henry Marshall (Email) Note added: 2009-09-19
No doubt about that. (That they dont make officers like Zoot anymore).
 He was my first Squadron Commander No.4 Sqn Poona flying Tempests. Affectionately called ZOOT. One of the most handsome guys around. In his yellow Studebaker convertible he was the essence of elegance BUT treated us all on par. Grab a lift even borrow his car. Parked next to the Crew room on a cold winter day we would pile into his car & listen to the Radio - a rare commodity those days. Often enough the battery would run down & a push start at pack up time.
 There were 7 of us from the 60th. Pilots course posted in to 4 Sqn. & in many ways we we must have been the last thing a Sqn. Cdr. wanted. Spitfire jockeys converting onto Temps. With poor serviceability & a worse reputation it would not be easy to work up the Sqn. to Ops. status, something we never ever felt. Come Saturday & he would beat up the airfield with either 'Dusty' Dastoor or Millicans as number two, & much of the Station would stop & look up at the hair raising sight of these Two Temps ridiculing the Temps poor reputation.
 During the Firing range session he had an engine failure on take-off with full armament load Rockets & F.Guns. We all rushed out on to the tarmac as we heard the siren not knowing which or what aircraft till we saw a cloud of dust at the end of 09 Runway. Soon enough his jeep went tearing off to the crash site, bringing him to the Hangar & as usual his wry smile & nonchalant comment 'hell of a lot of dust' as he dusted himself.
Sadly a few days later our course mate Bali crashed at the end of the 27 Runway with full armament load but he never survived the resultant fire.
 Later I was to meet up with him again at Jodhpur where he was posted after completing the FIS Course ( if I recall rightly) for a while we were in the same flight as instructor's, he as C Cat. & I as B Cat. but to him rank was never an issue. His absolute freewheeling & easy way endeared him to every one. One of most endearing assets was his cultured tone of voice.His wife too was a wonderful person & a party at his place was a much prized event.
 In ones service career certain persons are indelibly engraved in ones memory & Zoot was one of those.   Yes, undoubtedly they don't make them like that anymore.
Remarks: AVM Hamid Shahul (on Email) Note added: 2009-09-20

Indeed Mac's words are Prophetic " They don't make them like that any more"

To pay tribute by remembering this Great soul, late Air Marshal Jaffer Zaheer is indeed a great honor. Surely my pen is too feeble to attempt it.  Yet there are some instances in life that you just cannot forget and one such event I remember so vividly. While he was ACAS( Plans) in Air HQ, if my memory does not betray me it was in 1974. I was posted as Assistant Director Maritime Operations. We interacted very intimately with him for a week on an issue of " Procurement and Induction of Aircraft". The paper was finalized and the values were checked and rechecked and finally it went to the Ministry.

A week later we were huddled up in Air Marshal's office to counter a question from the Ministry. Against a value of X number  of aircraft, Type wise, presented to the ministry there was a query " Why not X+1 or X-1. All of us worked for a day and arrived at a figure and the Air Marshal was just not convinced.

The next day he remembered Sqn Ldr Murugan, now retired as an Air Cmde. He was on leave and asked him to come to the office. My God it was an anti climax.  Murugan arrived and one look at the figures and the question from the Ministry  " Sir he said, this is a red herring and what Ministry wants is just a figure working out the Standard Deviation ( SD). Murugan compiled it all in a hurry. To pay a compliment to Murugan the Air Marshal was quick to acknowledge a good work  "Remember he said, this world belongs to Experts and thus respect them"

It was for the first time I had worked with Zaheer Sahib and like my Instructor Marshall has said that it is deeply ingrained in my memory;  his easy and comforting disposition put us all to work with him on one to one basis; surely unheard of in most cases. Later while I was the Chairman  Airports Authority of India I used to talk to him on issues pertaining to Civil Aviation and amazingly he knew the subject so well and yet his modesty never misplaced.

May the Almighty Bless his soul, Amen.

Regards, HMS.