Families of Israeli airmen killed in Romania crash struggle with tragic news
Rescue crews located the bodies of six Israeli airmen and one Romanian officer at the site of Monday's crash of an Israeli military helicopter in central Romania.
At the Goldman home in Modi'in, relatives were trying to come to terms with the news that the father of the family was on board the Israel Air Force helicopter that crashed in Romania on Monday, carrying six Israelis and a Romanian officer.
Lt. Col. Daniel Shipenbauer43, Kidron
Lt. Col. Daniel Shipenbauer, 43, was the commander of the 114th Squadron of CH-53 helicopters before being appointed to a senior staff position. He came to Israel in 1973 from Uruguay with his parents and three brothers. They lived in Bat Yam.
Shipenbauer met his wife Yael, also from Uruguay, when he was 17. He studied mechanical engineering at Tel Aviv University during his service, finishing with distinction. Only last week he and his family moved to a new home in Moshav Kidron, near Tel Nof Air Force Base.
The family was scheduled to celebrate the housewarming after he returned from Romania this week.
Shipenbauer leaves behind three sons: Amit, 16, Ro'i, 13, and Yonatan, 8. "He had hobbies, but flying helicopters was his entire life," said his brother-in-law, Yaron Ozer. "He never would have forgone that flight. This was not the first time he flew such distances. He was a veteran pilot who for 20 years trained pilots."
Lt. Col. (res. ) Avner Goldman 48, Modi'in
Lt. Col. (res. ) Avner Goldman celebrated his 48th birthday last week. Goldman, from Modi'in, retired from the regular army two and a half years ago. His wife Orit said yesterday his last post in the military was as a commander in the air force's computer unit. He leaves behind four children: Eran, 22, who is in the IDF academic reserve and will soon join the air force; Amir, 18, who has returned to Israel from a vacation after finishing high school; Eitan, 16; and Tamar, 13.
Goldman was studying for a PhD in science, philosophy and society; he had bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering and business administration. He also taught courses in Jewish studies.
Orit said her husband loved to fly, and continued to fly in the reserves, even though he was no longer young. She said she last spoke with Avner just before his final flight. "I feel I'm waiting to wake up from a dream," she said. "This is a possibility that we had thought about for 25 years, but it's impossible to understand. It's an unbearable pain."
Maj. Yahel Keshet 33, Hatzerim
Maj. Yahel Keshet was born in Moshav Sharona in the Lower Galilee and lived with his wife Hofit on Hatzerim Air Force Base. He went to the Kadoorie Agricultural High School, where he stood out as both an outstanding student and someone who volunteered to help others.
He originally wanted to join the naval commandos, where his father had served, but a medical issue ruled that out and he volunteered for pilot training.
Keshet leaves behind two young children: Harel, 2, and Ofri, 2 months.He worked for perfection, said his parents. He was practical and careful about the smallest details. Safety and caution were part of his personality and nature.While in high school, Keshet was awarded a prize for quality, excellence and leadership by Yitzhak Rabin, who had also studied at Kadoorie. The award was named after Maj. Gen. Nehemia Tamari, who also died in a helicopter crash.
Lt. Nir Lakrif 25, Kiryat Ata
Next week Lt. Nir Lakrif, a flight mechanic, would have celebrated his 25th birthday. He would have celebrated his first anniversary in August; his wife, Maggie Malul, is four months pregnant. The two lived on the Tel Nof Air Force Base. Lakrif was born in Kiryat Ata and moved to Haifa after his parents separated when he was young. He was an outstanding student at the air force's Technical High School in Haifa.He always wanted to fly, said his uncle, Shimon Ben David. "He loved perfection. He also strove for the best," Ben David said.
Lakrif always wanted to serve in the air force, as his father did, and as a child would fly model airplanes. He was the pride of the family, said another uncle, David Attias.His mother is taking the news of the death of her only son very hard and has closed herself up in her mother's house, Attias said.
Sgt. 1st Class Oren Cohen 24, Rehovot
Sgt. 1st Class Oren Cohen, 24, came from a family with deep ties to the C-53 Sikorsky helicopter squadron. His father served in the same squadron, as does Cohen's younger brother now.His brother heard of the crash while on duty in the squadron.Cohen studied electronic engineering at Ort College in Rehovot and was considered one of the most outstanding students at the college before joining the Air Force at age 20 as a flight engineer.
His friends describe Cohen as knowledgeable and brilliant, a quick learner, pleasant and a good friend. "You could talk to him about anything, from the most sophisticated issues to music and quantum theory," said Oren Donai, who served with him in the squadron. "It was very nice being around him," he said. Cohen's family requested not to speak to the press.
Maj. Lior Shai 28, Hod Hasharon
Maj. Lior Shai, 28, lived on the Tel Nof air force base with his wife Tamar and their four month-old son Noam. He was a deputy squadron commander.
Shai never dreamed of being a pilot, but when he was invited to the course he decided to give it a try, said his mother. His family lives in Hod Hasharon. "He discovered an area he loved so much. After he finished training he came to the Yasur squadron and was happy. There was no doubt he would remain in the military and advance to his present position," she said.Lior finished one year of his studies in electrical engineering, returned to the air force and was scheduled to return to the university next year to complete his studies.
His son was his great joy, said Shai's mother. "He was a genius, a special child, there were few like him," said his aunt.