The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 26 April 2003 / 24 Nisan 5763

Lifesavers on the High Seas

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

"We hovered meters above the high waves and lowered the rescue team to the life rafts in the sea below."

This is how Lt. Col. D., commander of the elite Israel Air Force Rescue Unit 669, summed up the daring and tricky rescue operation which saved ten Turkish seamen from drowning the other month. The cargo ship they were on had broken anchor as a result of high winds and waves forcing the ship out to sea from its mooring at Ashdod Port. About ten miles out the boat sank and the Turkish sailors entered life rafts.

"We identified a fairly large vessel lying on its side about to go down, and two life rafts bobbing like fig leaves in the middle of a rough ocean," reported the commander. Helicopters then lowered cables with rescue teams to the rafts and within an hour and a half the rescue mission was successfully completed.

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