Ian Cardozo is a Major General (retd.) of the Indian Army who is known for his key role in the Indo-Pak war in 1971. He amputated his leg during the war, and he was the first war-disabled officer of the Indian Army who commanded and battalion and a brigade.
Ian Cardozo was born on Saturday, 7 August 1937 (age 84 years; as of 2021) in Bombay Presidency, British India (now Mumbai). His zodiac sign is Leo. Ian completed his schooling at St. Xavier’s High School, Mumbai, and then attended St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. His father encouraged him to read stories about the army wars and be more active in sports activities. Ian completed his education and then enrolled himself in the National Defense Academy (NDA) and then he went to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and joined the Indian Army as a part of the 1/5 GR (5 Gorkha Rifles) regiment.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Grey (half bald)
Parents & Siblings
Ian’s father’s name is Vincent Cardozo and his mother’s name is Diana Cardozo.
Wife & Children
Ian Cardozo got married to Priscilla in 1966 when he was 29 years old. They have three sons together – Arun, Sunith, and Vikram Cardozo.
Ian Cardozo was recruited in the Indian Army when he was 20 years old, and he joined the Gorkha rifles Regiment. He was 22 when their battalion was sent to Ziro (near the China border) in Arunachal Pradesh as tension was building up with the Chinese Army. At the age of 25, he fought the Chinese Army in 1962. He was 34 years old when his battalion was moved to Nagaland from Jammu and Kashmir as tensions began rising between Pakistan and Bangladesh. With a sudden movement, his battalion had no artillery support, they decided to move further and attacked the Pakistani soldiers with their kukris at night. They managed to kill 32 soldiers of a Pakistani company. During the war, the reporters were allowed to give updates on the war, and a reporter from BBC sent out the information that about 3,000 men of the Gorkha regiment had arrived on the border to support the Indian Army. On hearing the news, some Pakistani officers decided to surrender to the Indian Army, to which the commanding officer responded by saying that they cannot accept their surrender without official orders and they will continue fighting each other. During the war, as they were proceeding further to attack Pakistani soldiers, Ian Cardozo accidentally stepped on a landmine that was laid by Pakistani troops, and his leg got critically injured. Initially, he asked for morphine or pethidine to ease the pain but due to the absence of medics, he couldn’t get the required medicines and his leg could not be amputated surgically. He noticed that it would get worse from here so he took his kukri and decided to amputate his leg. After the amputation, Ian was asked to switch to a desk job but he took the case to General Tapishwar Narain Raina, who was the Chief of Army Staff at that time. General Raina took Ian to Ladakh where he conducted a few fitness tests and observed his performance, he then gave the official orders to allow Ian to command a battalion, and he further commanded a brigade.
- Ati Vishisht Seva Medal
- Sena Medal
- Wound Medal
- General Service Medal
- Samar Seva Medal
- Poorvi Star
- Raksha Medal
- Sangram Medal
- Sainya Seva Medal
- 25th Anniversary of Independence Medal
- 9 Years Long Service Medal
- 20 Years Long Service Medal
- 30 Years Long Service Medal
- Ian Cardozo’s service number was IC-10407, and he served in the army from 1954 to 1993.
- Ian Cardozo became the first NDA cadet to earn the silver medal for being first in order of merit and gold medal for passing the academy with the best all-round performance.
- When Ian Cardozo was going through the pain of losing his leg, he refused to get operated on by a Pakistani surgeon who was a prisoner of the war. He refused by saying that he had seen the torture of the Pakistani Army with his eyes and he wouldn’t want to lose his good leg. He asked his commander in chief to be present with him during the surgery to ensure his safety. Later, in an interview, Ian Cardozo thanked and praised the surgeon for his work and for helping him out.
- In 2005, Ian Cardozo became the chairman of the Rehabilitation Council of India, and he served in that position till 2011.
- Ian Cardozo retired from the Indian Army at the age of 56 as the Chief of Staff of a corps in Assam. In his early 60s, Ian began his journey as a published author with his first book – ‘1971: Stories of Grit and Glory From The Indo-Pak War.’ He has also written several other war related books like ‘Param Vir: Our Heroes in Battle,’ ‘Shaitan Singh: Incredible Heroism Displayed by a Small Group Against Hordes of Chinese in the Battle of Rezang La in 1962,’ ‘The Sinking of INS Khukri: Survivor’s Stories’ and many others.
- With his Army career and new life as a published author, Ian Cardozo had always kept his fitness on top of his priority list. Since 2006, Ian has participated in the Mumbai Marathon with 16 other war-disabled army men.
- Ian Cardozo had set a great example for people with disabilities, and he even shared his life motto which he follows and was given to him by Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. The motto was-
To do what you love, to love what you do, to never be afraid, and to never give up.”
- After losing his leg in the landmine accident, Ian Cardozo was offered a desk job in the Indian Army but he refused by saying that he joined the army to fight in the field and not work in the office. After spending seven years convincing his seniors, Ian was finally allowed to give his fitness test which he passed with flying colours. After this incident, the Indian Army relaxed its rules and regulations, allowing soldiers of war casualties to serve in the army with promotion.
- During an interview, Ian recalled an incident from one of their practice sessions before raiding a Pakistani post. The regiment was throwing grenades over the wall when a grenade hit the wall and bounced back. He was aware that a grenade has a time of four seconds before it blasts, so he grabbed the grenade and threw it away from his soldiers to avoid any casualties. The grenade exploded in the air and everyone was shocked to see his bravery.
- On 15 October 2021, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar and filmmaker Aanand L Rai announced the news of their third film together, Gorkha. The movie is a biopic based on the life of the famous Major General Ian Cardozo, and how his sacrifice and dedication helped the Indian Army to win the Indo-Pak war in 1971. Upon getting the news, Ian Cardozo said-
I feel honored for this story to be told on the 50th anniversary of the 1971 war. It commemorates the courage and sacrifice of the armed forces of India. I look forward to working with Anand and Akshay as they bring this to life. This story reflects the values and spirit of every officer of the Indian Army.”