Israel Profile in Courage: IAF Helicopter Pilot Noam Gershony (Part 1)

UPDATE 10 am Israel time Tuesday:

Thousands of Palestinians protesting the high cost of living took to the streets of Judea and Samaria yesterday burning tires and throwing “rocks” at police and security guards. The worst attacks were in Shechem (Nablus) and Hevron where security personnel who “feared for their lives” used tear gas and live ammunition to break up demonstrations at municipality offices. A number of wounded Palestinians were taken to local hospitals.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the security personnel shooting at the Palestinians were Palestinians–specifically the PLO/Palestinian Authority police?

On the international front yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wasted no time in rejecting PM Netanyahu’s call for “red lines” against the Iranian nuclear program declaring that “negotiations” were the best way to bring the Iranian nuclear program to a halt (even though there really have never been any negotiations: the West meets with the Iranians, tells them what it wants, listens to the Iranians refuse, and then schedules the next round of “negotiations”).

By the way, does anyone else remember the “red line” of “no construction in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria” that President Obama and Clinton attempted to establish against Israel during the first three years of Obama’s presidency?

And what about U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon speaking to the ludicrously named “U.N. Human Rights Council” in Geneva yesterday and spending most of his time talking about . . .  Israel’s so-called “siege” of Gaza (does anyone remember that there is no siege of Gaza–the Rafah Crossing to Egypt is open). Nothing about Iran, few words about the 25,000 slaughtered in Syria–just endless self-serving, despicable Ban Ki-Moon hypocrisy.


[Today, we begin a two part blog that details the extraordinary courage of IAF helicopter pilot Noam Gershony–the winner of the gold medal in tennis in the recent Paralympics Games in London.]

It was the middle of the night on July 20, 2006–eight days into Israel’s war with Hezbollah. Because of incredibly poor military leadership by Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and IDF head Dan Halutz, things were not going so well for Israel, and IAF Apache AH-64D helicopters had been dispatched to the north to ferry reservists into Lebanon.

Two of those helicopters, each with a pilot and a co-pilot, were hovering above Kiryat Shmona awaiting orders about where to pick up soldiers in Israel and where to drop them off in Lebanon. Suddenly, due to either wind shear air turbulence or rotor malfunction on one of the Apaches, the helicopters collided and crashed to the ground.

Noam in an Apache helicopter--more about this picture tomorrow.

The crash scene that night:

Obviously this picture was taken after Kochba and Gershony were removed from the wreckage.

Within minutes, the IDF’s elite 669 rescue unit was on the scene. In one of the helicopters, the pilot and co-pilot were “moderately” injured; in the other, co-pilot Ran Kochba was dead and 23 year old pilot Noam Gershony was dying. Suffering from multiple spinal and other limb fractures and bleeding profusely from open body wounds, and from his nose, mouth, and ears, Gershony was virtually given up for dead by the 669 paramedics. When a Medivac helicopter arrived on the scene, they told the doctor on board: “Take him, there’s nothing that can save him.”

Still, the Medivac took off for Haifa’s Rambam Hospital. Within minutes, it was diverted to Tzfat (Safed) when Gershony died from complete respiratory failure. Nevertheless, once on the ground, Gershony was somehow revived by the doctor on board who ordered the flight on to Haifa. Minutes later, the helicopter was forced down in an open field when Gershony died again–his blood pressure plummeted to zero–and again, the doctor fought to revive him.

By 2 am that morning, the helicopter carrying Gershony finally made it to Rambam Hospital–and IDF personnel appeared at the home of his parents Pnina and Moshe near Tel Aviv one hour later and escorted them to Haifa where the news was not good as their son lay in gravely critical condition. Yet, as Pnina later observed, “it was a victory that we were even in the emergency room.”

[Tomorrow, we will follow the story of Noam Gershony from his hospital bed in Haifa to the gold medal ceremony in London].

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