Uri Yarom, one of the founders of the helicopter formation and recipient of the Medal of Distinguished Service, died yesterday at age 80. The “Palmach” fighter who become a pilot and a stepping stone in the history of the IAF
Uri Yarom was born in the year 1931 and was drafted to the field ranks of the “Hagana”. Afterward, he enlisted in the “Palmach” as a fighter, where he participated in various battles and operations, including the Altalena Affair. Following Yarom’s release, he enlisted in the IDF yet again to “Pilot Training Course” number 6, which he completed in the year 1952. He served as a “Mosquito” pilot in “Hatzor” airbase, and later as a “Piper” pilot. In April 1954, he served as a pilot in operation “Shnunit”, in which seven “Piper” pilots recued Naval Force soldiers, whose ship crashed on a Saudi sandbank.
In the year 1956, Uri Yarom traveled to the United States in order to extend his knowledge of helicopter operations. Consequently, he was named Commander of the Helicopter Department in the “Elephant” Squadron, and left with an IDF delegation for an educational program in France and Algeria to study the subject of operational activation of helicopters in the French military. In 1958, the helicopter department became the first helicopter squadron in the IAF, the “Rolling Sword” squadron, which counts Uri Yarom as its founder.
In an interview for the IAF Magazine in the year 2008, Yarom described the transition from a small helicopter department to an entire formation, which is an integral part of the force. “The difference between the squadron of those times to the squadron of today is like the difference between East and West”, he said. “From two helicopters in the squadron in its early days, we’ve become an international helicopter powerhouse. When I saw the helicopters that serve the force these days, I realized I could’ve never imagined such power and navigational ability. The human resources are also getting better as the years go by. Every generation has to make sure that the generation after it is stronger and better”.
Uri Yarom made tremendous efforts to involve the helicopter formation in different missions and operations, and befriended the commander of the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit in order to consider the possibility that helicopters might lead the unit’s forces in clandestine operations. In August 1963, the “Halutz” operation took off. This operation included the landings of troops for classified intelligence work beyond enemy lines in Sinai.
Yarom, who was the formations’ commander and a helicopter pilot, wrote in his book:”When the H-hour came around, we flew to the marked starting line. Once the engine started every possible fear or worry had vanished. The only thing we focused on was the mission’s purpose. We were already in the air, following the path very carefully. The landing point was near. We had to have an impeccable landing! Even in the moon’s weak light that night, I carry out a soft land in the specific place. The Helicopter’s wheels touch the ground, and the operation begins the way we trained dozens of times before”. All the mission’s participants were given the Commander in Chief’s Citation, aside from Yarom who received the Metal of Distinguished Service.
Afterwards Yarom became the commander of “Sde Dov” airbase, fought in the Six Days War as a pilot in the “Rolling Sword” Squadron and was later appointed as the IAF attaché in United States.
Later on, Yarom retired from the IAF and became the Vice President of a civilian Helicopter Service company. Yarom also worked as a pilot for “El-Al” Israeli Airlines.
Uri Yarom’s autobiography is called “Kenaf Renanim”, and was published in 2010 by the Defense Ministry of Israel.
Yesterday, his family made notice of his passing. May he rest in peace.