'We'll give Ron's dog tag to his son'

Families receive five soldiers' remains from Second Lebanon War.

5 soldiers (photo credit: Courtesy)
5 soldiers
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Nearly two years after a helicopter carrying Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Ron Mashiach of Gadera was shot down over Lebanon, his dog tag was returned to his family on Monday. Hizbullah returned the remains and personal belongings of four other solders to Israel after spy Nasim Nisr completed his six-year prison term and was allowed back into Lebanon. The remains of Mashiach, 33, Capt. (res.) Daniel Gomez, 25, of Moshav Nehalim, Maj. (res.) Nisan Shalev, 36 of Kibbutz Evron, and Maj. Sami Ben-Naim of Rehovot were also found. Their Yasur transport helicopter was shot down by Hizbullah on August 13, 2006. Sgt..-Maj. Gilad Zusman, 26, of Eli, was also identified in the remains. Zusman, who served in the Paratroopers' Mobile Explosives Company, was killed in action in on August 9, 2006. Mashiach served with Air Force Squadron 114 for 14 years, his mother, Rivka, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. "He was loved by everyone there," she said. "His subordinates did not see him as just a commander, he was something beyond that. He really cared for them." "When they announced he was killed, everyone there cried in an extraordinary way. They had a notebook commemorating him, and wrote the most amazing things," she added. Seeing her son's dog tag again was an emotional experience, she said. "The dog tag was covered in soot," Mashiach said. "You see it and assume it was with him in his final moments, and that is the worst, knowing the dog tag was on him then." The family plans to give the tag to Ron's infant son, Sa'ar, when he is older. "When the time comes and his son, who looks just like his father, grows up, we will give it to him so he can see his father was a hero," Mashiach said. Ron's wife, Sivan, was six months pregnant at the time of his death, and Sa'ar never got to meet his father. "We hope this boy will grow gloriously, and become just like his father," she said. Ron developed an interest in airplanes as a child, Rivka said. "In high school, he built an aircraft model for an air force competition, but never finished it on time. After his death, we gave the model to his squadron, where they painted it and transferred it to [the Israel Air Force's] Hatzerim Museum [near Beersheba]," Mashiach said. "It's going to be placed in a room with belongings of [Columbia] astronaut Ilan Ramon," Mashiach said. "Ron was the greatest person I even knew." Myriam Gomez, Daniel's mother, said she appreciated the gesture but her son's legacy was more important than his remains. "We see this as an act of completion, sure, but it does not give us closure, change our daily lives, focus or activities," she said. "We are thankful that we have a body in Israel, that we have a grave to visit, but we don't meddle with this too much," Gomez said. "We focus more on actions, the memories he left us, his successes and things that pertain more to his spirit, not physical remains." An IDF representative called the family Sunday to tell them that some of the remains might belong to Daniel, and after running pathology tests, told the family Monday night the tissue was indeed his, Gomez said. Hearing of the remains "was not easy, but in the past two years we have been dealing with a lot of difficulties and this is another one, nothing out of the ordinary," she said. "We've been in tougher situations." The family plans on burying the tissue in Daniel's currently empty grave. Daniel was a "very modest, sensitive and introverted guy, who did not talk a lot but took a lot of action. He was salt of the earth, always helped everyone, very social and a joker," Gomez said. "One the other hand, he was very serious, goal-oriented and thorough," she said. "And very loved as a son, friend, brother and husband."