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Uploaded : 13  February  2000 (IST)

Sqn. Ldr. T. J. Keelor, F(P) Vir Chakra.
1965 , No. 23 Squadron (Gnat), Pathankot.
(Later Wing Commander)

Trev KeelorSquadron Leader Trevor Joseph Keelor was one of the first pilots to get trained on the Folland Gnat fighter inducted by the IAF. He had previously received the Vayu Sena Medal for successfully landing a Gnat after a technical malfunction.

During the 1965 Conflict, Sqn Ldr Keelor was a Senior Flight Commander of No.23 Squadron flying the Gnat fighters from Adampur. He was part of the detachment sent to Pathankot to counter the threat of enemy fighters which were interfering with our operations in that Area.

On September 3rd, 1965, Sqn Ldr Keelor was part of the Eight aircraft mission sent to escort a Mystere formation. When the forward formation led by Sqn Ldr Greene was attacked by enemy fighters, Sqn Ldr Keelor manoeuvred his formation to enable him to counter the threat, Keelor himself attacked the Sabre which was targeting a Gnat from the lead formation. The Enemy fighter was last seen spinning out of  control after being damaged by Keelor's Gnat.

Sqn Ldr Keelor's act of shooting down the enemy fighter despite the presence of F-104 Starfighters and other Sabres armed with Sidewinder Missiles was unique and the first time ever the Indian Air Force ever scored against enemy fighters after Independence. Sqn Ldr Keelor was awarded the Vir Chakra. He retired from service as a Wing Commander.

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Uploaded :  6 February 2000 (IST)

Fg Off  P. S. Pingale, F(P) Vir Chakra.
1965 , No. 7 Squadron (Hunter), Halwara.
(Now Air Marshal)

Prakash PingaleFlying Officer Prakash Sadashivrao Pingale was involved in the thick of the Action in the 1965 India Pakistan Conflict. He was flying for No. 7 "Battle Axe" Squadron then operating from the Halwara Air Base.

At the Outbreak of hostilities, Pingale was involved in flying Combat Air Patrols in the Amritsar-Halwara area. On September 6th, His formation was involved in an AirCombat with Sabres, in which his wingman shot down one of the attackers. Pingale himself was shotdown , but ejected safely.

Even though suffering from back injuries as a result of his ejection, Pingale was still involved in operational flying. On September 16th, He was leading a two Hunter formation which was scrambled to intercept two enemy Sabre aircraft coming in to attack Halwara. Pingale intercepted the enemy formation and shot down one of the attacking Sabres, whose pilot ejected and was taken POW. Then on receiving a call  from his wingman, he rushed to his aid and damaged the other enemy aircraft. however, His wingman was lost in  the combat.

Fg Off P S Pingale displayed, courage and fortitude and ignoring his personal injuries was involved in combat throughout the war. Pingale received the Vir Chakra for shooting down the Sabre.

Today, P S Pingale is serving as an Air Marshal in Air Head Quarters.

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Uploaded :  30  January 2000 (IST)

Flt Lt B. B. Soni, F(P) Vir Chakra.
1971 , No. 47 Squadron (MiG-21), Jamnagar.

SoniFlight Lieutenant Bharat Bhushan Soni was a member of a MiG-21 FL Detachment from No.47 "Black Archers" Squadron based at Jamnagar.

Entrusted with the airdefence responsibility of Jamnagar and surrounding areas, Flt Lt Soni was involved in numerous Counter air missions as well as Combat Air Patrols.

On December 13th, 1971, A Pair of F-104 Starfighters from the PAF attacked Jamnagar airfield. Flt Lt Soni was one of the pilots on Combat Air Patrol  on that particular day. He was immediately directed to intercept the attackers. Soni targeted one of the Starfighters and attacked with his Air to Air Missiles. However on one of the missiles missing the target, he closed in and used his cannon to shoot down the intruder off the Kathaiwar coast. The Enemy pilot was seen ejecting in the shark infested waters, but Air and Sea Rescue was not able to locate him later on.

Flt Lt Soni was awarded the Vir Chakra for shooting down the enemy aircraft in what was the first ever encounter of the kind anywhere in the world.

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Uploaded :  23  January 2000 (IST)

Flt Lt Bhupinder, F(P) Vir Chakra.
1998 , No. 114 HU (Cheetah), Siachen Glacier.

aw_bhupinder.jpg (4389 bytes)Flight Lieutenant Bhupinder was a Helicopter pilot with a No.114 HU operating in the Siachen Glacier Sector. He flew many missions in Casualty evacuation and in replenishment sorties to forward posts. He played a vital role in rescuing two stranded helicopters within a span of one week in this sector.

On another occasion, Flt Lt Bhupinder was flying an air maintenance sortie, when his helicopter came under heavy shelling while landing at an advanced helipad. His Co-Pilot suffered shrapnel injury from a close miss, and the Helicopter was badly damaged. Flt Lt Bhupinder showed exemplary courage in flying back the extensively damaged helicopter back to base.

Flt Lt Bhupinder was awarded the Vir Chakra for his show of courage under enemy fire.

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Uploaded : 16  January 2000 (IST)

Flt Lt Roy Andrew Massey, F(P) Vir Chakra.  
1971 , No.22 Squadron (Gnats), Dum Dum Airfield.

aw_massey.jpg (5100 bytes)Flying Officer Roy Andrew Massey was a formation commander with No.22 Squadron , flying the Gnat Fighter in the Eastern Sector. Based at Dum Dum airfield near Calcutta, No.22 Squadron was deployed to encounter any posible intrusion by Pakistani Sabre aircraft operating from Tejgaon Airfield near Dacca.

On 22nd November 1971, a ground battle near the Sailent of Boyra was raging on when enemy ground troops called upon their airforce for support. Three Pakistani Air Force Sabre Jets were soon over the Boyra peninsula supporting the Pakistani ground troops. Flt Lt Massey's formation was scrambled to intercept and deal with the intruding aircraft. Massey led his formation with such skill and effectiveness, that his formation shot down three of the four enemy aircraft. Two of the Sabre Jets crashed in Indian Territory with the pilots being captured. Massey himself chased one of the Sabres into Pakistani airspace before claiming it shot down.

For his leadership and bravery in the airbattle, Massey was awarded the Vir Chakra Medal. Roy Andrew Massey went on to the rank of Wing Commander , but unfortunately was killed in an air accident when his MiG-23 aircraft suffered a bird strike.

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Uploaded :  8  January 2000 (IST)

Wg Cdr K S Suresh, F(P) Vir Chakra.  
1971 , OCU , Jaisalmer.

aw_suresh.jpg (4822 bytes)Squadron Leader K S "Kuki" Suresh was posted to the newly established Jamnagar Airforce Base in August 1971. Helping out Wg Cdr M S Bawa in bringing up the base to an operational level, Sqn Ldr Suresh flew many combat missions at the outbreak of hostilities in December 1971.

The Jaisalmer airbase had only four Hunters on establishment, When a Pakistani Armoured Attack threatened to overrun the border outpost of Longewala. Suresh was one of the few pilots who flew sortie after sortie in the Hawker Hunter fighters at the airbase. Together with others, the enemy armoured offensive was blunted. In one of the sorties Sqn Ldr Suresh's aircraft flew so low it grazed the sand dune while pulling up after hitting a target.

After the arrival of reinforcements from Jamnagar, On Dec 13th, Sqn Ldr Suresh was leading a three aircraft  attack onto Talhar Air Force Base near Badin.  When intercepted by enemy aircraft, He manoeuvred his aircraft and succeeded in shooting down a PAF Sabre aircraft and successfully extracted his formation without loss.

Sqn Ldr Suresh flew a total of 22 Sorties during the conflict for which effort he received the award of Vir Chakra.

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Uploaded :  2 January 2000 (IST)

Wg Cdr Johnny William Greene, F(P)
Vir Chakra and Vayu Sena Medal
(Later Air Marshal )

greene.jpg (8982 bytes)A Mohemadan by birth, a Christian by choice, J W Greene was the epitome of a fighter pilot in the 60s. A Qualified Day Fighter Combat Leader, He was on a staff job at Ambala, when hostilities intensified in August 1965. He was deputed to No.23 Squadron flying Gnats, as the detachment commander of eight Gnats flying out of Pathankot airbase. Greene led the Gnats into combat for the first time on September 3, 1965, in which his formation tangled with PAF Sabres, and subsequently claimed one Sabre shot down. The next day, His formation claimed its first confirmed Kill when another Sabre was shot down, this time in Indian territory.

During the 1971 War, Wing Commander Greene was the Commanding Officer of No.2 "Winged Arrows" Squadron flying the Gnat, operating out of Pathankot. He led the squadron right from day one flying combat air patrols over the forward airbase. In one action, he intercepted a Starfighter and was in a dominating position, when the enemy aircraft by virtue of its superior speed burst away from the combat. Greene recieved the Vayu Sena Medal for leading the Squadron.

Greene retired as an Air Marshal from the IAF.


airwar.jpg (3966 bytes)
Uploaded :  26  December 1999 (IST)

Wg Cdr Bhupinder Kumar Bishnoi  F(P)
Vir Chakra and Bar (Later Air Vice Marshal )

aw_bishnoi.jpg (5199 bytes)B K Bishnoi is one of the few IAF Officers who was honoured with a Bar to the Vir Chakra. As a Squadron Leader in 1965 War, Bishnoi flew several interdiction missions with No.20 "Lightning"  Squadron flying the Hawker Hunter. In one of his missions in the Raiwind Area, He along with three of his colleagues attacked and destroyed an ammunition supply train with rockets and gunfire. The Next day, he led an interdiction mission against enemy targets in the Lahore sector in which a significant amount of enemy armour was knocked out. B K Bishnoi was awarded the Vir Chakra for these actions.

During the 1971 War, Wing Commander Bishnoi was the Commanding Officer of No.28 "First Supersonics" Squadron flying the MiG-21 FL aircraft. Wg Cdr Bishnoi led the first strike raids on Dacca airfield in which he destroyed a transport aircraft by rockets on the ground. Wg Cdr Bishnoi flew a total of 26 Sorties during the war, in which he destroyed the runway at Tejgaon airfield as well as leading the strike on Government House at Dacca. For his role in 71, Bishnoi received a Second Gallantry Award, in the form of a Bar to his Vir Chakra.

Bishnoi retired as an Air Vice Marshal from the IAF.


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Uploaded : 19  December 1999 (IST)

Flt Lt Syed Shahid Hussain Naqvi F(P)
Vir Chakra (Now Air Marshal )

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Then Flt Lt. S S H Naqvi  was a pilot of No. 120 (Ad Hoc) Mystere Squadron  flying in the Ganganagar Sector during the 1971 War. Naqvi flew 19 Sorties against Ground Targets during the conflict, including a successful attack on a Boat Bridge across the River Sutlej.

Naqvi also flew a lone sortie against AA installations in the Fazilka Area. His Tactical Reccoinassaince missions in the Western Sector , in which he flew without any fighter escort were very successful and bought back much information about Pakistani dispositions. He flew three missions against Pakistani Railway marshalling yards. For his contribution to the Air Effort, Naqvi received the Vir Chakra.

Today, S S H Naqvi is an Air Marshal, having served as the DCAS of the Indian Air Force.


airwar.jpg (3966 bytes)
Uploaded : 12 December 1999

Flt Lt Niraj Kukreja F(P) Vir Chakra

aw_niraj.jpg (4225 bytes)Flt Lt. Niraj Kukreja was a MiG-21 Pilot during the 1971 War. flying for a detachment of No.29 Squadron from Uttarlai, Kukreja was escorting a flight of Maruts on the last day of the war, 17th of December 1971 in the Naya Chor area when they were intercepted by F-104 Starfighters.

Kukreja chased one of the Starfighters at deck level and downed it with one of his K-13 IR air to air missiles. Flt Lt. Kukreja was awarded the Vir Chakra for his Starfighter Kill.

Flt Lt Kukreja died in an Air Accident less than an year after the war.


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