Mitchell Flint, an American pilot who volunteered to fight in Israel's War for Independence.
(photo credit: ISRAEL AIR FORCE)
Mitchell Flint, a former US Navy fighter pilot who helped create the Israeli Air Force, died Saturday in Los Angeles at the age of 94.
Flint, who served in Israel’s first fighter squadron, died of natural causes, his son Michael Flint was quoted by US media as saying.
The son of a World War I Navy combat flyer, Flint volunteered at 18 to serve as a US Navy pilot and earned three Air Medals and eight Navy Unit Commendations during his service in the Pacific during World War II.
After seeing what occurred to the Jews of Europe during the Second World War, he volunteered to fly for the fledgling State of Israel during its War of Independence and, in 1948, made his way to Czechoslovakia, under the guise of heading to the Olympic Games in London, before flying to Israel.
Flint was one of the founding members of “Machal,” a group of non-Israelis who fought in Israel’s War of Independence and flew in Mustangs and Spitfires, as well as German Messerschmitts that had been captured during WWII – with Stars of Davids painted over the Nazi insignia.
The Machal volunteers played a key role in the war, and during his time flying for Israel’s 101 Squadron Flint served alongside Ezer Weizman, who would later go on to become the head of the air force and Israel’s seventh president.
“We did what we needed to do, and since then the State of Israel has only become stronger – Israel can defeat any enemy,” Flint was quoted by Ynet News last year when he flew a special sortie over Israel’s coast for the country’s independence day.
“Israeli Independence Day proves to me that we succeeded in doing what we needed to do,” Flint said.
“I remember times which were a lot more difficult. Now, things are a lot better. The most important thing is that the State of Israel can now take care of itself and has the ability to deal with and conquer any foe.”