idf to honor auschwitz with flyover

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    I hope this really upsets you Miles..........

    Aug. 28, 2003
    IDF to honor Auschwitz with flyover
    By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN


    Three F-15 fighter jets, some piloted by sons and grandsons of Holocaust survivors, take off Thursday for an historical booming fly past over the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

    Proudly displaying the blue Star of David, the three jets, the most lethal aircraft in the IAF's arsenal, will swoop down low in next week's September skies and jet straight over the train platform where the Nazis held their infamous selections that sent hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths in gas chambers.

    The feat will also demonstrate Israel's long-arm reach of its premier fighter jets which will fly the 1,600 nautical mile route.

    "It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. I have dreamt of this for 15 years. It will be very moving for me," Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel told The Jerusalem Post.

    Eshel, commander of the strategically crucial Tel Nof airbase.

    Eshel will lead the fly past scheduled for September 4. While he exact time cannot be given for security purposes, Air Force officials said that it would take place "around midday," and noted that the event is open to all who may wish to visit the death camp on that day.

    "We will fly past over Auschwitz and we will show the most powerful might of the IDF where the most awful tragedy happened to the Jewish people. This symbolizes so much where we came from and where we are going," said Eshel, whose mother's family was wiped out by the Nazis in Poland.

    The idea for the fly past came about after the Polish air force invited the IAF to participate in their gala celebrations marking their 85th birthday. The IAF agreed and will be sending a large delegation and small fleet of aircraft to Poland next week. The IAF will be joining other air forces from around the world at the celebrations to be held at the Radom airbase some 250 kilometers from Warsaw. The trio of IAF F-15 jets will perform aero-acrobatics at the base.

    Eshel said the invitation was the perfect time to stage the memorial fly past and asked the Poles what they thought of the idea. After initial foot dragging, they agreed and even gave enormous logistical support such as aerial photos of the camps and clear flight paths.

    On the day of the event, the three war jets will fly toward the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. They will slow to some 300 knots and fly as low as possible along the railroad tracks leading into the camp and crematoriums and then peel away.

    "We will be flying slow and low so that everyone on the ground will be able to clearly see the IAF markings and the blue Star of David," said navigator Capt. Shai who helped planned the event and will also participate in the fly past.

    This is not the first time the Israeli army will have come to the infamous concentration camp. In 1992, then chief of general staff Lt.-Gen. Ehud Barak led a delegation where he solemnly declared "We got here 50 years too late."

    In the years since, the IDF has sent delegations of officers to Eastern Europe on a journey that led them to a number of death camps. This year's group, known as "Witnesses in Uniform," will be led by Brig.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, head of Air Force ' Command, and will include 140 officers. They will form the Israeli delegation on the ground during the fly past.

    Gen. Eshel chose the aircrews personally. Some were reservists who have participated in many of the IAF's battles. The grandparents of another pilot both survived Auschwitz and moved to Israel. Another pilot is the son of partisans who fought the Nazis.

    But Capt. Shai, the F-15 navigator who will be in the lead jet, is the son of Moroccan and Iraqi parents.

    "I am a member of the Jewish people and that serves as my connection to the Holocaust. This is also very important for me because it shows our might today,"
    said Shai, 25, whose last name could not be revealed due to security regulations.

    "We are returning to a nation where there was an attempt to vanquish the Jewish nation from a position of strength," Capt. Shai said. "Not only will we be remembering the six million murdered in the Holocaust, but this flight has great importance today since it shows the vitality, versatility and might of the Air Force."

    "The IAF has recently been doing a lot of cooperation with many air forces and you can say that going to Poland with the F-15s shows our long arm and our ability to operate in far off, unknown lands," Capt. Shai.

    "It is hard to tell what I will feel when I will be in the cockpit then," said Capt. Shai.

    "But this is a camp where so many Jews were killed and for us to come back in an F-15, the greatest symbol of the Jewish nation's strength, will characterize the whole route our people have taken. I will feel very proud."

    The jets will return to the Polish air force base after the fly past, refuel and head back to Israel.
 
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