13-Sep-2011 Source: Israeli Defence Forces
Time stopped in the IAF as reports came in on Monday July 26th 2010 that contact had been lost with an IAF CH-53 Sikorsky helicopter that was training in Romania. As time passed, it became clear that the crew had been killed in the accident.
The training session last year was planned in advance, one of dozens of exercises that the IAF has participated in with foreign air forces, in Israeli airspace and abroad. The Sikorsky squadrons, which had trained in Romania in previous years, returned again to practice flying in unfamiliar, mountainous areas. Three days before the end of the training exercise, the accident occurred. Two Sikorsky helicopters from the â€˜Night Birds’ squadron took off in the afternoon hours and flew west toward the Carpathian Mountains. They entered thick fog and at one point one of them impacted the side of a mountain.
Slightly over a year after the accident in the Carpathian Mountains, the bereaved families of Colonel Daniel Shipenbauer, Lieutenant Colonel Avner Goldman, Major Yahel Keshet, Major Lior Shai, Lieutenant Nir Lakrif and Staff Sergeant Oren Cohen will depart for Romania at the start of the next week.
Parents, wives, siblings and children, squadron members and other IDF personnel will arrive to view up close where they lost their dear ones and to dedicate a monument that bears the names of the casualties.
The commander of the Romanian Air Force will welcome the commander of the IAF, Major General Ido Nechushtan, who will head the Israeli delegation.
The initiative for the trip to Romania came from the IAF and required much assistance from the Romanian side. “The Romanians are cooperating with us and are showing an extraordinary desire to help us and treat the IAF specially,” said Colonel Ronit, who returned from a trip to Romania last month during which preparations were made for the families’ trip. “Usually, when a soldier is killed, the IDF tries to bring the family to the location at which he or she died. We thought that these families deserve to see the closest place to which their dear ones died. The families, on their part, are very emotional, grateful and appreciative to the IAF for this journey.”