Fallen airmen arrive in Israel

Six IAF servicemen to be buried Friday at various locations.

IAF coffins Tel Nof 311 (photo credit: Courtesy: IDF Spokesperson)
IAF coffins Tel Nof 311
(photo credit: Courtesy: IDF Spokesperson)
An Israeli Air Force Boeing aircraft carrying the coffins of six IAF servicemen killed in Monday's Yasour helicopter crash in the Carpathian Mountains landed Friday morning at the Tel Nof air base. The funerals of the fallen soldiers will be held at various military cemeteries throughout Friday.
Lt.-Col. (Res.) Avner Goldman will be buried at 12:15 p.m. in Modi'in; Lt.-Col. Daniel Shipenbauer will be buried at 3:00 p.m. in Gdarot; Maj. Yahel Keshet will be buried at 1:00 PM in Sharona; Maj. Lior Shai will be buried at 2:00 p.m. in Hod Hasharon; Lt. Nir Lakrif will be buried at 12:30 p.m. in Haifa; and St.-Sgt. Oren Cohen will be buried at 1:00 p.m. in Rehovot.
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On Thursday, IDF forensic teams identified the remains of the servicemen 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. There were slight problems in identifying the remains the IDF said late Thursday night, causing the plane meant to carry them back to home to take off at a later time that what was originally scheduled, Israel Radio reported. The process took several more hours and the plane eventually departed Friday morning.
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.