Fallen airmen coming home for burial

Israel-bound plane leaves Romania with remains of 6 servicemen.

July 29, 2010 21:46
2 minute read.
IDF crews prepare to return from Romania

Romania crews return. (photo credit: Courtesy of IDF)

BOBOC, Romania – IDF forensic teams on Thursday were identifying the remains of the six Israel Air Force servicemen who were killed three days earlier in a helicopter crash in the Carpathian Mountains.

There were slight problems identifying the remains, the IDF said late Thursday night, and so the plane meant to carry them home had yet to take off at press time, Israel Radio reported. The process was set to take several more hours, with the plane expected to take off towards morning.

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4 helicopters make way home
Analysis: Disaster shines light on Romania ties

The men’s funerals are scheduled to be held on Friday.

The identification was being performed at a hospital in the Transylvanian city of Brasov. The remains were then to be transferred to the Romanian Air Force base in Boboc for the flight to Israel.

The IDF delegation at the base began packing up its equipment on Thursday morning ahead of the return home.

Four of the eight IAF Sikorsky CH- 53 Sea Stallion Yasour helicopters that were in Romania for the Blue Sky training exercise took off on Thursday morning and began making their way back to Israel. Two helicopters remained behind to take the bodies of the servicemen from the Romanian hospital to the base.

The IDF sent a Boeing 767 airliner to the base to fly the remains to Israel. After a brief ceremony, the coffins were loaded onto the plane and members of the IDF Chaplaincy Corps recited kaddish.

Three of those killed were posthumously promoted, the IDF said.

Initial reports from the investigation point to human error, combined with poor visibility because of fog in the mountains, as the cause of the crash.

Military sources told The Jerusalem Post that the IDF did not plan to change the overseas training regimen for its helicopter and fighter jet squadrons, and would continue to send aircraft to drill with allies.

“These training exercises are crucial for the air force in preparing for the various challenges it faces in the region,” one senior officer said. “There is no reason to stop them based on the tragic accident in Romania.”

Teams from the IAF’s elite 669 search-and-rescue unit may accompany future deployments overseas. The unit already sends members for some exercises, but increased deployment is under consideration.

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