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Uncomplicated Hero


Lt. Miroslav Steven Zilberman:

Hundreds of mourners gathered Thursday at Norfolk Naval Station to pay tribute to Lt. Miroslav “Steve” Zilberman, a Navy pilot killed last week when his plane crashed into the North Arabian Sea after mechanical difficulties. Zilberman, 31, was lauded as a hero whose actions in the cockpit saved the lives of three crew members. Those aviators bailed out of the troubled E-2C Hawkeye before it hit the water and were rescued uninjured. The plane – Bluetail 601 – was returning to the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower from a mission to Afghanistan when one of its engines lost oil pressure and had to be shut down. At the end of the memorial service, Zilberman’s widow, Katrina, was presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross. “Without his courageous actions, the entire crew would have perished,” read the citation, signed by Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations. Zilberman grew up in the Ukraine and was in sixth grade when his parents emigrated to the United States, settling in Columbus, Ohio. He joined the Navy right out of high school, but didn’t serve in the enlisted ranks for long. He entered the Navy’s “Seaman to Admiral” program and became an ensign after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in computer science.

See also this post. The E-2 has no ejection seats, and so has to remain level during descent for anyone to successfully escape.

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  • Larkspur

    Yikes. He looked death right in the face, and made sure his guys got out safely. He knew, and he did it anyway.

    I suspect I don’t have the right stuff.

    Thank you for posting this. I’m sure I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise, and it’s something people ought to know about and reflect on.

  • JW

    Another death of another brave man. To what end?

    Published: October 4, 2008
    The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — When Afghan security forces found an enormous cache of heroin hidden beneath concrete blocks in a tractor-trailer outside Kandahar in 2004, the local Afghan commander quickly impounded the truck and notified his boss.

    Heroin caches were found near Kandahar and Kabul.
    Before long, the commander, Habibullah Jan, received a telephone call from Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai, asking him to release the vehicle and the drugs, Mr. Jan later told American investigators, according to notes from the debriefing obtained by The New York Times. He said he complied after getting a phone call from an aide to President Karzai directing him to release the truck…

    • Jeff

      He died saving his crew– he would have been every inch a hero if the crash had been off the Florida coast.

      • Larkspur

        Yes, absolutely. I’ve often tried to imagine what it was like on D-Day, like how on earth anyone could disembark from those landing craft and hit the hellish beaches, and I think that when the moment came, your motivation might be as simple as doing it so the guy next to you wouldn’t have to go alone.

        The question “to what end?” is a totally different subject, and irrelevant to this particular discussion.

  • kid bitzer

    a different sad story–an osprey just went down in afghanistan. looks like some good men died.

    and of course, the taliban is claiming a shoot-down. the trouble is, with an osprey, you don’t actually *need* to shoot it down. you can also just look at it funny, and it will crash. or maybe the taliban can claim credit after all, because they thought bad thoughts at it. that would do the trick–the damn things are so badly designed, they’ll crash at any provocation.

    sad, sad story of procurement gone way wrong.

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