Body of IAF pilot found 56 years after his death

November 7, 2018 by Ilanit Chernick - TPS
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After a decades-long search, the head of the IDF manpower directorate, Maj.-Gen. Moti Almoz, announced the discovery of the remains of air force pilot, Lt. Yakir Mordechai Naveh (Leifer), whose burial place was, until recently, unknown.

Lt. Yakir Mordechai Naveh
Photo by Israel Air Force on 1 February, 2016

“On Thursday, October 25, as part of an operation to locate him, his remains were discovered among the fragments of the plane on the Sea of Galilee and they were transferred to the Institute of Forensic Medicine,” Almoz said in a statement. “The remains of Yakir were found during an operation to locate them at the Kinneret, under the leadership of the Air Force and in cooperation with the Personnel Division, a branch for tracing missing persons and other units.”

The IDF said that Naveh had served as a pilot and flight instructor in the Israel Air Force.

In 1962, as part of a training flight, the late lieutenant, an instructor at the flight school, together with the late Sgt. Oded Koton, had flown over the Sea of the Galilee but crashed.

Koton, was found about a year after the accident, but Naveh was never found.

On October 16, a twelfth search operation for Naveh began. In 2009, his plane was spotted in the Kinneret, and this prompted further searches for his remains.
“The Israeli Air Force,” the IDF said, “carried out the searches using advanced marine tools and technologies from a company chosen by the Defense Ministry.
“Over the years, the Air Force has been in continuous contact with the bereaved family and updated it throughout the operation,” it said, adding that details of Naveh’s funeral will be provided at a later date.

“This effort is part of the IDF’s moral obligation to locate all the missing and prisoners, and all fallen IDF soldiers whose burial places are unknown,” it said.

Naveh was born in 1939 in Ramat Gan. He enlisted in the Israel Air Force in 1957 and began his service as an aircraft mechanic, and later advanced to a combat pilot and training instructor before being killed in the 1962 Kinneret plane crash.

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