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Air Marshal Denzil Keelor PVSM, AVSM, VrC, KC (born 7 December 1933) is a retired Indian Air Force air marshal and a hero of the Indo-Pakistani war. He was honoured with a number of medals including the Veer Chakra, the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, the Keerti Chakra and the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal. He had a younger brother, Trevor, who was also honoured for his service in the Indian Air Force. Both brothers have a Veer Chakra for the same feat of shooting down a Sabre jet. This is the first time two brothers have received Veer Chakras for the same reason.
Denzil Keelor was born on 7 December 1933 and went to school at St. Francis’ College, Lucknow and La Martiniere Lucknow. He joined the Indian Air Force on 6 November 1954 and rose to the rank of Air Marshal. He retired in 1991. Following his retirement he worked as the President of the YMCA for ten years. He was the chairman of Special Olympics Bharat.
Denzil Keelor’s first award was the Veer Chakra in 1965. The citation reads as follows :
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. The Sabre kill by Denzil earned the Keelor family a unique distinction. Both the brothers now had Sabres to their credit and both earned the Veer Chakra, making it the first time brothers had won the Veer Chakra for identical feats.
In 1978 Keelor was awarded the Kirti Chakra. The citation reads as follows :
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 U trainer on 27 Mar 1978, 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 successfully executed another safe landing back at his airbase.
Denzil Keelor was awarded with the Ati Vishist Seva Medal on 26 January 1986 and the Param Vishist Seva Medal on 26 Jan 1989.