The bond between Gen. Dave Goldfein and the airmen who rescued him after he was shot down in Serbia remains as strong as ever. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason. It was Brig. The first thing to know about David Goldfein is that he’s the Jewish general whom Obama nominated to serve as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force. Goldfein quickly thanked the crew and shook their hands, everybody slapped each other on the back. The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. When his rescuers arrived, Goldfein put his arms over his head, showing his submission while the airmen confirmed it was him. She got dressed, cleaned up the living room, and made coffee while she waited. Goldfein, meanwhile, still had no idea where he was. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Tom Kunkel, his co-pilot, as well as Kubik, pararescuemen Staff Sgt. When her doorbell rang, she found the wing commander’s wife, the chief of flight medicine and her priest. When Goldfein talks about the mission, his deep respect for all those who rescued him — not only Hardy, Kubik and Ellis, but the other airmen and soldiers on the three helicopters and those supporting the mission — is readily apparent. “They didn’t leave me; I’m sure not going to leave them,” he said. After that close call, Goldfein was back on the move. I look under the NVGs, and it’s pretty much dawn. “It’s almost disbelief — you can’t believe you pulled it off. He first heard the voices of the search party, and hit the deck, concealed in tall grass just inside the treeline. He knew he had to bail out. After a delay while a bigger task force was briefly considered — which would have cost the team precious darkness — the helicopters took off. Rich Kelly manning the guns. “I grabbed some of these rocks in this great little pile that I have, and I fling it at this thing, and it rears up and growls,” Goldfein said. He first tried unsuccessfully to puncture the raft’s thick rubber with a stick, and then he got the idea to bite through it with his teeth, before catching himself. Goldfein began running — as best he could carrying a raft — toward a treeline and what he thought was a nice, gentle hill. The downside was, that meant he had no straight path to follow. But when he listened closer to the crunches of the steps, he realized it wasn’t a person, but an animal of some kind. “It’s crazy what goes through your mind,” Goldfein said. And for Goldfein, his efforts to repay the debt he owes his rescuers comes down to something very simple. She looked through and outside her house and found nothing amiss. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Whoever packed it didn’t give him the dark green combat chute he was supposed to have — he was instead floating down under an orange-and-white training chute, shining brightly under the full moon. “There was no time I was afraid, but it was a reality check. Jeremy Hardy and Senior Airman Ron Ellis, and flight engineers Tech. Goldfein accelerated his descent with a four-line jettison method, which is typically too risky to be done at night, and spiraled down into a soft, freshly plowed field to avoid injuring himself upon landing. There, Kubik received the treatment for his post-traumatic stress and substance abuse he had needed for years. She saw the other three pilots from Goldfein’s formation, and they had been crying — “Obviously, it was a really tough night for them.”. Goldfein saw the helicopters pass by and fumbled to activate his infrared strobe. As Goldfein drifted down, he looked up at his parachute and became immediately concerned. Goldfein warned them, “Start finding me, boys” so someone could get a radar lock and last known position in case he had to bail out. 2) The general has his own way of thanking the rescue crew. “So, I ended up looking like Wile E. Coyote, right? Now the fight’s on — who’s going to get there first?”. Goldfein was pinned with his new rank by his wife, Dawn, and one of his daughters, Diana Glass. “The enemy knew where we were, so they started racing. That slope, however, turned out to be more like a cliff. Nearby, Senior Airman Andy Kubik, the combat controller on Denehen’s MH-60 Pave Hawk, was lifting weights. “My role, quite frankly, was just not to screw it up,” Goldfein said. But Goldfein quickly realized he was in a lot worse shape this time. After laying awake for hours, Dawn Goldfein heard the phone ring at about 5:30 a.m. and shot out of bed. At the time, Denehan rocked and banked the helicopter to test it, and didn’t feel any problems, so they kept going. The airplane landed and lowered its stairs, Dawn said, and Goldfein emerged a muddy mess. Goldfein said they “were getting a lot of fire” at the scene of his rescue, and recalled machine gun fire being directed to the tree line near where he was. He was forced to parachute into an open field in Serbia just after midnight, when his aircraft was hit by a missile. Dawn Goldfein pose with a representation of an etching that is now displayed on the Wall of Valor at the Air Force Memorial during a ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., July 31, 2020. He dodged a few AAA bursts as best he could in his thrust-less fighter, but they couldn’t find him. 3) Goldfein is a third generation veteran. “We had a full moon, so it was bright to begin with, but I’m noticing that it’s getting brighter and brighter. But within moments it went out completely. It was Brig. When they got word that the MC-130 was about to land, Dawn woke up their eldest daughter, Danielle — who is now an Air Force officer — and told her what had happened. But he still vividly remembers everything that happened that day — and the men who saved him. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya) “No one Air Force Specialty Code is any more important than the next in this theater — it takes the entire team working together to get the job done,” he wrote in a letter defending the women. Denehan said he had to keep powering the helicopter to keep it from rolling over on the slope. The cockpit recording is striking for how steady the pilot’s voice remains. And with that, the mad dash to save the life of a U.S. Air Force pilot was on. Sgt. “It’s the standard story everybody tells you,” Goldfein said in a May 7 interview at his Pentagon office. Before serving as the Vice Chief, General Goldfein was the Director, Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Arlington, Va. General Goldfein received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983. And just as quickly, his voice regains its edge as he tells his fellow pilots that he’s going to glide as long as he can before he bails out. They knew he had been shot down, and that he was coming back, but nobody knew his condition. “You could see them on your [night vision] goggles, pretty clear,” Goldfein said. Petty theft was a problem in that area, she said, and she first wondered if someone was lurking around her home. The rescue of Hammer 34 — Goldfein’s call sign on that May 2, 1999, mission — has since become part of Air Force lore. Retired Lt. Col. Bill Denehan, who was then a captain and pilot, had just turned in for the night. But another battery lurking right below Goldfein fired a missile practically straight up at him, and about four seconds later it slammed into the aft of his F-16. Son of William M. Goldfein and Private “Somebody came in through the door and said, ‘Hey, an F-16 went down — it’s real,’” said Kubik, who later retired as a technical sergeant. As the rescue helicopters flew over Serb-friendly Bosnian villages near the border, the people in their homes began dousing the lights, which Denehan said felt eerie. Denehan and Kubik recall it differently — the Serbs were firing at the Pave Lows slightly ahead of them, they said, but they weren’t dodging bullets at the Pave Hawk’s landing zone. Kubik, Hardy and Ellis immediately jumped out — knocking a case of water onto the ground — and ran to Goldfein, who ran toward them, and they met in the middle. But what the Viper pilots didn’t realize was that the Serbs had moved some batteries north from where they expected they’d be. “I remember when he told me that story, I thought man, this guy is father of the year,” Goldfein said. He decided his best strategy was to walk through the plowed fields, assuming that farmers would have already kicked up any possible landmines. The general landed in a deep gorge and fell down face-first, “riding it like Indiana Jones down to the bottom,” he said. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. His training kicked in: He told his fellow pilots what was going on, and turned back west toward a safe base. They weaved their way through the terrain, sometimes flying at 50 to 100 feet and popping over trees and power lines. He secured pens and loose items in the cockpit for when the canopy blew. Every year, he sends the team a bottle of “single malt, good quality” Scotch, which they finish off together when Goldfein comes for a visit. The Serbs fired at the Pave Hawk, and the pilots had to maneuver radically to dodge the shots. Now, 20 years later, that pilot is chief of staff of the Air Force. It was a little before two in the morning. Some airmen and soldiers were still up, playing cards in the tactical operations center. The son of a typewriter salesman, Schwartz said he was “proud to be identified as Jewish as well as an American military leader.”. Goldfein became the 21st chief of staff of the Air Force. “I left that perfect spot. Father of Private “We started nicknaming him the MacGuyver of Serbia. “We were worried,” Denehan said. They turned north back toward Bosnia, hoping to find a clearer way back into Serbia, when another SAM hurtled toward them. “He had done some creative modifying of his surface-to-air missiles,” Goldfein said. Before, he served as Air Force Vice Chief of Staff and was previously Director of the Joint Staff, a position within the Joint Chiefs of Staff who assists the Chairman of … “We did not want to go into Serbia in the daylight. I always joke that I’m convinced it was a mountain lion or a grizzly bear, you know, there in Serbia. That’s when he ran into three Serbian soldiers, hunting him down. His brother Stephen Goldfein also served in the Air Force. The Serbs walked right towards him. She went back to bed but couldn’t fall back to sleep. Then he realized, that somebody was them. We were all just in awe.”. The helicopters flew low, popping chaff and flare and trying to jam the enemy’s signal. But Goldfein had a big problem: He didn’t know how far he had glided, and had no idea whether he had bailed out in Bosnia or Serbia. 7) Norton Schwartz served as Air Force chief of staff in 2008-2012, the first Jewish person to do so. Jack Gainer and Staff Sgt. We’ll email you whenever we publish another article by J.J Goldberg. At the time, he was the commander of the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base in Italy — the storied “Triple Nickel.” Goldfein’s squadron had come up with tactics and a plan to take out the surface-to-air missile batteries that were pestering the coalition air forces, and becoming an increasing threat, using the F-16s’ infrared targeting pods.
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