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July 28, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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July 28, 2017

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 28, 2017 ) By Andrew Tobin TEL AVIV (JTA)--The ar- rival of U.S. fighter jets in Israel, part of a month-long arms drop, was critical to turning the tide of the Yom Kippur War in favor of the Jewish state. But for theAmerican pilots who volunteered to deliver the aircraft, it was just another mission. Alan Chesterman, part of a U.S. Navy squadron that flew a handful of the jets, said he had little knowledge of Israel or its security situation when he landed here in October 1973. "We knew we were flying into a combat zone, but we didn't know anything about it," he said. "It was more like I'm young, adventurous and fearless--you might say young and stupid. I just lived to fly." Chesterman, 72, was one of two pilots who reunited last week with some of the Israelis to whom they handed the Douglas A-4 Skyhawks. Along with nine other Ameri- can pilots and their wives, they took a VIP tour of Israel to see what has become of the coun- try since they helped to fend off the surprise onslaught by its Arab neighbors 44 years ago. Since landing June 24 at Ben GurionAirport on com- mercial flights, the Americans have been traveling around the country and receiving briefings from top military officials. On June 28, they visited the Tel Nofair base, where they ex- changed war stories with more than a dozen I sraeli pilots who flew the American Skyhawks. They also re-created a photo- graph that several of them, including retired U.S. fighter pilot Roy "Bubba" Segars, 76, and former Israeli airman Ja- cob "Booby" Daube, had taken together during the war. The following day, the American pilots attended a flight course completion ceremony at the Hatzerim Air Force base, where they heard addresses from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Rami Lothan, 65, an Israeli Air Force pilot who greeted the Americans in 1973 and flew one of the Skyhawks in the war, participated in a flight show at the event, fly- ing apropeller-driven training plane. He helped organize and host the trip after meeting members of the group at flight shows in the United States. Lothan said that in the midst of the Yom Kippur War -- a coalition of Arab armies led by Egypt and Syria caught Israel unprepared on the holiest day of the Jewish cal- endar-the Israeli pilots had not been able to appreciate the arrival of the Americans, who at the time were still fighting the Vietnam War. This week's visit, he said, has been an op- portunity to reflect. "I don't think we had enough time to sit down and Call on Central Florida's Exclusively Jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD Samuel P. (Sammy) Goldstein, Executive Director Roy "Bubba" Segars, second from right, and Jacob "Booby" Daube, far right, posing during the 1973 Yore Kippur War at the Tel Nor air base in Israel. appreciate what was happen- ing. Whatever we could fly, whatever could carry bombs, we flew it," he said. "But see- ing these guys; it's like lost brothers. I can admire pilots who don't have any connec- tion to the Middle East, and they just completed tours in Vietnam, and they all volun- teered to come here and help us out." Chesterman recalled that he was stationed at the naval air base in Southern Califor- nia when the squadron skip- per asked for volunteers for a dangerous and unspecified mission. Nearly all the pilots Retired U.S. fighter pilot Roy "Bubba" Segars, left, and retired Israeli fighter pilot Jacob "Booby" Daube holding a photo they took together during the 1973 Yore Kippur War at the same Tel Nof air base in Israel, June 28, 2017. raised their hands. Over the for active duty and was there Until recently, Chesterman course of two days they made for the duration. We don't had been afraid to return to their way to Israel, stopping have to do it that way in the Israel because he thought it several times along the way, United States." was unsafe. But this was his including in Spain, the only Chesterman said the Israe- second trip to the county in European country thatwould lis welcomed the American thepasttwoyears, andhesaid have them en route to Israel. pilots with a friendly meal hehaslearnedtotakecomfort Segars, the other pilot from on base, during which he and in the fact that"the good guys the mission now in Israel, fired his fellow pilots "did our best have all the guns." some rounds toward Libya on to drink all their booze." One Chesterman also has the way. of the Israeli pilots who had gained an appreciation for Although the Americans beendrinkingwiththemsud- the role he played in helping were only in Israel for a few denly excused himself, saying Israelatamomentofprofound hours, Chesterman gathered heneededtoreturntothewar, crisis and what the country that the country was fully Only then did the Americans has become. mobilized forwar. He recalled realize he had been drinking "I'm completely impressed seeing the wife and children iced tea, not beer. by thewaythe Israelis conduct of a soldier camped in a tent Segars--the pilot who themselves," he said. "They along the runway of the air "fired at Muammar Gaddafi," are proud of their country. base with their clothes drying as Chesterman put it--ear- It's so young, with so many on an air defense battery, nestly tried to convince the smart people and technology, "That's when it hit me: I Israelis to let him join the but also has so much history. thinkthey'renotjustfighting battle.Buttheseveralbeershe It's an incredible place. for territory. They're liter- had just downed "disabused "Ifitweren'tformykidsand ally fighting for their lives," him of opportunity to go grandkids back in the States, Chesterman said. "The whole fight in someone else's war," Israel would be at the top of family was basically called up Chesterman said. my list of places to live." 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