Number Name Branch Died in Service? Picture?

Air Marshal Denzil Joseph Keelor

Service No & Branch 4805 F(P) (Orig: GD(P)) Stream :Fighters
Date of Birth: -- --- ---- Commissioned: 06 Nov 1954 Course: 64 Course
Service End: Retired on 31 Dec 1991 Superannuated Flying Hours : 3500 Nick Name :
Qualifications Held :
Remarks :
Promotions Gazetted
Fg Offr : 06 Nov 1955Flt Lt : 06 Nov 1959Wg Cdr : 01 Oct 1974Acting Gp Capt : 20 Jun 1977
Gp Capt : 01 Apr 1978Acting Air Cmde : 01 Oct 1982Air Cmde : 02 Jun 1982AVM : 01 Dec 1986
Air Marshal : 03 Jul 1989
Training and Other Courses Attended
24 DSSC (Sqn Ldr) - 23 Nov 196823 NDC (Air Cmde) - 01 Dec 1983
Badges Qualified
Google the Bharat Rakshak Website for : "D J Keelor"

Sqn Ldr

Air Cmde
Notes:1)Branch is at retirement and may not match with branch at Commission 2)Notional seniority is reflected in dates of substantive rank.

Appointments, Postings & Other Service Particulars

01 Jan 1973 - 01 Apr 1975Wg CdrNo.4 SquadronTezpur Commanding Officer
20 Jun 1977 - 04 Jul 1979Gp CaptTactics and Combat Development EstablishmentJamnagar Commandant
04 Sep 1979 - 31 Aug 1982Gp CaptEmbassy of India, FranceParis Air Attache
- Air CmdeAdvance HQ, Western Air CommandSimla Air Officer Commanding
23 Sep 1980 - No.4 Squadron Commodore Commandant
01 Oct 1982 - 04 Jan 1983Air CmdeAir Force Records OfficeNew Delhi Air Officer Commanding
10 Dec 1983 - 29 Nov 1986Air Cmde40 WingMaharajpur (Gwalior) Air Officer Commanding
01 Mar 1987 - AVMAir Operations, Air HQDelhi Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Operations
03 Jul 1989 - 26 Mar 1991Air MarshalPSO: Inspection & Safety, Air HQDelhi Inspector General (Inspection & Safety)
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Awards and Decorations

Number of Awards: 4
Vir Chakra
Sqn LdrDenzil Joseph Keelor4805 GD(P)Award Date 18 Sep 1965Announced 22 Sep 1965
Details :

On the 19th September 1965, Squadron Leader 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 2000 feet from the ground where enemy anti-aircraft guns were also active. Under his guidance, his sub-section leader shot down a Sabre jet aircraft. Thereafter Squadron Leader Keelor himself engaged another Sabre jet and crippled it.

Throughout the operations Squadron Leader Denzil 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 Indian Air Force.

Unit : 9 Sqn
Reference : Gazette of India , 1st January 1966 - No.133 - Pres/65 dated 22nd September 1965
Kirti Chakra
Gp CaptDenzil Joseph Keelor4805 F(P)Award Date 27 Mar 1978Announced 26 Jan 1979
Details : On the 27th March, 1978, while Group Captain Denzil Keelor was flying a combat aircraft at high altitude, its canopy flew off and this exposed him to explosive decompression ad severe wind blast. His eyes, ear-drum and left arm were injured and he experienced great difficulty in controlling the aircraft. Although abandoning the aircraft in the circumstances would have been justified, he decided to recover the aircraft. Under these adverse conditions, wherein he was not able to have a proper view due to wind blast, and that too only with one eye, he brought the aircraft back to base and executed a safe emergency landing.

Again, on 17th May 1978, during a live airto-air sortie, a 23 mm High Explosive shell burst as it left the gun muzzle. Shrapnel damaged the aircraft and caused total failure and a serious throttle restriction. The cone extended fully and the associated engine rumbling and surge gave every indication of engine bearing failure. Without electric instruments and Radio Telephony, Group Captain Keelor had no way of either knowing what had happened or of asking for assistance. Assuming that the engine bearing had failed, he decided to attempt am emergency recovery. With his flying skill and experience, he returned to the airfield, set up a flame out pattern and executed a safe landing. The throttle was stuck at 60% revolutions per minute, and in spite of this he was able to stop the aircraft without damage.

Group Captain Denzil Keelor thus displayed conspicuous courage, exemplary professional skill and devotion to duty of an exceptional order.

Gp. Capt. Keelor who had rich and wide combat experience and the destruction of a Sabre aircraft to his credit, was flying a MiG-21 FL on 27 Mar 78, when due to structural failure the canopy of the aircraft detached and flew off. Gp Capt Keelor felt sudden decompression and loss of control, but managed to fly back to base and execute a safe emergency landing without the canopy. Later on 17 May 78, during firing trials one of the 23 mm Cannon Shells exploded causing extensive damage and total electrical failure to his aircraft. He sucessfully executed another safe landing back at his airbase.

Unit : TACDE
Reference : Gazette of India , 28th April 1979 - No.15 - Pres/78 dated 26th January 1979
Ati Vishist Seva Medal
Air CmdeDenzil Joseph Keelor4805 F(P)Award Date 26 Jan 1986Announced 26 Jan 1986
Details :

Air Commodore Denzil Keelor, KC, VrC, Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the Air Force on 06 Nov 1954. Right from his formative stage in the Air Force he has shown tremendous potentialities both as a fighter pilot and administrator on the ground. He is a qualified Pilot Attack Instructor and Fighter Combat Leader with 3500 hrs of accident free flying to his credit. He was awarded the Vir Chakra for gallantry in the Indo-Pak conflict of 1965. In 1978, he was awarded the Kirti Chakra for saving two MiG aircraft under conditions of dire emergency in the air. He has commanded a frontline fighter Squadron and was subsequently given the command of the Tactical Combat Development Establishment which he commanded for 4 ½ years and helped in developing many air combat tactics which are in current use. He is a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College and the National Defence College.

He was appointed Air Attaché in France and thereafter selected for the appointment of Air Officer Commanding of the Wing designated for the induction of Vajra Aircraft. The implementation of the Vajra project involved acquisition of land, developing of the infrastructure both technical and domestic. He motivated the personnel under his command to work with zeal, enthusiasm and single mindedness of purpose and completed in record time the major portion of the infrastructure for the same operation of the Vajra aircraft.

Air Commodore Denzil Keelor, KC, VrC thus rendered distinguished service of an exceptional order.

Unit :
Reference : GoI19860126
Param Vishist Seva Medal
AVMDenzil Joseph Keelor4805 F(P)Award Date 26 Jan 1989Announced 26 Jan 1989
Details :

Air Vice Marshal Denzil Keelor was commissioned in the Air Force on November 1954 and has held important command and staff appointment including command of a Fighter Squadron, Tactical Air Combat Development Establishment, Air Attaché France and Air Officer Commanding of a fighter base. An outstanding fighter pilot, Air Vice Marshal Keelor qualified as a Pilot Attack Instructor and Fighter Combat Leader and has over 3500 hours of accident-free flying to his credit. He was awarded the Vir Chakra for conspicuous gallantry Indo-Pak Conflict in 1965. In 1978, he was also awarded the Kirti Chakra saving two MiG aircraft under conditions of emergency involving fire in the air. He has commanded the Tactical Air Combat Development Establishment for over four years and helped in developing air combat tactics which are in current use in Indian Air Force.

Air Vice Marshal Keelor whilst functioning as Air Attaché in France, not only projected the image of the Air Force in a superlative manner but also worked great dedication in the acquisition process of the Mirage 2000 aircraft and a equipment. Based on his performance there, he was specially selected for appointment of Air Officer Commanding of the Wing where the Mirage 2000s were based on induction. His achievement and dedication of a high order in completing this project earned him the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal.

As Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations) at Air Headquarters, he brought his drive and professional acumen to bear in sharpening the operational capability of the Air Force. His deep understanding of all facets of Air Operations was apparent during the Sri Lanka operations. At very short notice, he was able to plan and effect the massive air induction of IPKF men and their equipment into Sri Lanka, in addition to organising helicopter operations and accomplishing in time the reconnaissance tasks. The success of Air Force operations and the swiftness with which these were carried out clearly indicated a high degree of dynamism, planning and dedication on the part of Air Vice Marshal Keelor. Air Vice Marshal Denzil Keelor, KC, AVSM, VrC has, thus, rendered distinguished service of the most exceptional order.

Unit :
Reference : GoI19890126

Accidents and Incidents: 1

DateAircraft TypeTail NoPilot/CrewUnitRemarks
08 Dec 1971MiG-21 FLSqn Ldr Denzil Joseph Keelor
45 SqnSD AAA

Additional Notes

Remarks: The Quint Note added: 2015-12-05
Remarks: WildFilmsIndia Note added: 2015-08-05

The data in the header section of this page comes from the Gazette of India - Click here to see the source
Note: All the data available here is publicly available in the Gazette of India, published by the Indian Government, or from public domain sources, press releases about Awards and Right-To-Information (RTI) Requests. Additionally data shared by veterans is added to the page with permission. No data with respect to serving officers below the rank of AVM is displayed. Information in Gazette of India and Award citations and photographs as released by the Indian Air Force are the only details displayed.