Wonderful husbands, fathers loved flying

Bereaved families struggle with their loss.

helicopter crash 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
helicopter crash 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
“Kisses to everyone,” Lt.-Col (res.) Avner Goldman, 48, wrote in a text message to his wife, Orit, hours before he was killed along with five other IAF airmen and a Romanian officer during a helicopter training flight in Romania on Monday.
In her return text message, Orit reminded him that it was Tu Be’av, the holiday of love, and that the family loved him.
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Goldman, a father of four, celebrated his birthday just before leaving for Romania last week. His family in Modi’in, along with the families of the other victims, were notified on Tuesday that no one had survived the crash.
“I still can’t speak of him in the past tense,” Orit Goldman told reporters. “I hope to wake up from this dream. I hope he will all of a sudden come in [the door] and then I will know that it was all only a dream.”
He was the best of husbands, she said.
“We were together for 25 years. The pain is unbearable,” she said, adding that he had loved flying and felt that it was his mission in life. Very few people continue to serve in the reserves at his age, Orit noted.
When she told her children their father was dead, she told them that “it happened in an instant and he was smiling to the end.”
Throughout Tuesday afternoon, tearful friends and relatives came to the Goldman home on a small side street in Modi’in.
In Moshav Sharona near Tiberius, Duby Keshet spoke with reporters about his son, Maj. Yahel Keshet, 33, from Kibbutz Hatzerim, who was married and the father of two small children.
The moment four soldiers appeared at his door, “I understood that my son had been killed,” even though at the time all that the army knew was that he was missing, Duby said.
They last spoke with Yahel on Saturday night, he said.
Boxes were still stacked outside the home of Lt.-Col. Daniel Shipenbauer, 43, who moved to Moshav Kidron with his wife and three children just before leaving for Romania. The moshav is 2 km. east of Gedera near the Tel Nof Airbase, His brother-in-law, Yaron Ozer, told reporters that Shipenbauer had come to Israel at age six from Uruguay and grew up in Bat Yam. At a teenager he played soccer in the Hapoel Youth League in Tel Aviv.
“He loved sports very much, but he loved flying even more,” Ozer said.
He added that it had been very important to Shipenbauer to participate in the training in Romania.
Maj. Lior Shai, 28, from Tel Nof, was married with a four-month-old infant.
His mother told Ynet that he had stopped flying for a while to study electrical engineering and returned to the skies only this year.
St.-Sgt. Oren Cohen, 24, from Rehovot, followed his father into the air force, as did his younger brother. His friends said that the IAF was like his second home.
One friend told Ynet that the trip to Romania was the first time the air force had sent him overseas. He had been waiting for this opportunity throughout his service.
“The moment I heard about the crash I thought of Oren,” the friend said.
Lt. Nir Lakrif, 25, from Tel Nof, was married last year. His wife is four months pregnant.