A CH-53 Through Night-Vision Goggles
A CH-53 Preparing for Takeoff
A Flight Briefing
Colonel Daniel Shiffenbauer Six years ago, CH-53 helicopters traveled to the depths of enemy territory to rescue two fighters who had been exposed. The crews are now granted a citation for that night
Yael Harari and Tal Michael | Translated by: Karen Tocatly
They step on the stage one after another. Seven past and current air crew members and in-flight mechanics march to the thunderous clapping of their close families and friends. Six years have passed since that night in which they boarded helicopters and risked their lives in order to rescue IDF fighters who were stranded in enemy territory. When Colonel Daniel Shiffenbauer’s turn comes, the audience falls silent. Two children walk onto the stage and walk hesitantly, hand in hand toward the Commander of the IAF. This week, they received the honorary citation of his father, Colonel Shiffenbauer, the leader of the mission who was killed in the CH-53 accident in Romania, leaving a wife and two children behind.
In August 2006, specail forces entered enemy territory for a clandestine mission. Not long after landing, the helicopter crews received notice of injuries. The ground force was exposed and was involved in battle while trying to escape.
The two helicopters, carrying eight air crew members, took off for a rescue mission. They waited mid-air for the cue to launch the commander of the ground forces, after he reported that they are subject to relentless fire from two different locations. Long minutes went by and the two crews, led by Commander of the Squadron Colonel Shiffenbauer, realized that the darkness of the night would soon disappear. The rescue crew would have to arrive quickly in order to avoid the light of day that could endanger them. The crew inched closer to enemy territory accompanied by a combat plane, with the antiaircraft fire focusing more and more as they approached. The mission was completed successfully: The ground forces were able to board the helicopters quickly, and together they returned to Israel.
“Everyone standing here is a hero”
In appreciation of their actions while risking their lives, an honorary citation was presented to the air crew members, with only seven of them in presence. Colonel Shiffenbauer, who led the rescue mission, was killed in 2010 in the CH-43 crash in Romania, together with six other people. His widow, Yael, received the citation in his name from Commander of the IAF. “In my eyes, everyone standing here today is a hero, filled with courage and aplomb”, said Major General Nehoshtan. “When activity like this is conducted, far away from the spotlights, risks have to be taken. If not for Danny, it is likely that this story would have stayed humble and hidden, much like Danny’s special personality”.
Amongst the recipients of the citation, were some of Colonel Shiffenbauer’s closest friends. “I have no doubt that his humility would not have allowed him to receive this citation”, said Chief Warrant Officer (Res.) Meir, the in-flight mechanic who was in the helicopter with Colonel Shiffenbauer. “Once a week I remember this operation and dream about it at night. The citation that I received just now doesn’t change much, but it proves that the force appreciates us and hasn’t forgotten the many complex operations we’ve conducted”.