A Jewish Pilot in the Land of Milk and Honey — Part 12

As Teddy Kollek had his hands full using two telephones constantly to contact and speak to many honorable Americans, Jews and Gentiles alike, Place orders and give instructions , he needed an aid badly. Moshe Goren who was a Platoon Commander in the Haganah was assigned to him as his leg-man. When Elynor asked Teddy to send her 15 men as trainee-pilots in a Pilots-Course he instructed Goren to find the necessary men.
Moshe Goren knew absolutely nothing about flying and his only knowledge of Aviation was the existence of Commercial Airlines which transported passengers from point to point. He surmised that trainees for a pilots’ course must come from the elite of armed ground forces and in Israel the elite fighting force was the Palmach. He therefore started looking for men who were at least Platoon COs in the Palmach. There was very little interest among the Israeli students which were then in the US concerning flying. Most of them, especially those who had command-rank wanted to return immediately to Israel to join the Defence Force.
After great difficulties Goren found 3 ex-Palmach: 2 men and 1 girl. 8 Hagana members: 7 men and one girl who served with the WAAF during the 2nd WW. 2 Haganah Aero Club members: Meir Hofshi who had an A grade in Gliding and myself. All in all 13 members of which 2 were girls.
The fact that she could not get a group of 15 young men made her angry but the fact that they were sending her girls, although she herself was of the female sex – this was really beyond apprehension. She called back Teddy and protested strongly and was answered that in Israel women fought along the men and were getting wounded and killed besides them. Elynor finally gave up and Teddy told Moshe Goren to dispatch the 13 volunteers to Bakersfield Airpark.
Although Moshe Goren did not know that he should have sent them all to medical exams and psycho-technical exams 5 of them did somehow go through medicals but nobody had a psyco-technical test. Goren told me to get to the airport early on one of the last days of February 1948 where I met 4 more guys. We were sent over in small groups in order not to raise suspicion. My group flew with American Airlines in an unpressurized Douglas DC4, skirting the Rockies from the south, making 2 intermediate landings and finally getting to Los-Angeles in the early evening after a 12-hour flight.
About half-way during our flight Moshe Goren came to me and said: “You are not going to get this flying course free of charge. You have to contibute the money which you have available and I know that you have considerably more than the others.” I could’nt believe my ears and said: “What are you talking about? There was no talk about having to pay for this flying-course. Did any of the others give you any money?” “Certainly” replied Goren: ” Everybody else contributed all he had. Do not try to argue with me. I knew from the very start that we will have trouble with you and that you are not fit material for this course. I have a mind to get you off this flight and send you back.”
I was not stupid enough to believe Goren’s demand of money. Had it been about anything else but flying I would have sent him packing but as soon as I heard him threatening me about this flying course and knowing that he could  actually wash me out of it since besides he and Kollek who would not bother about it for lack of time to deal with trivialities I was not covered by anybody yet. I had $300 and 27 cents in my pocket. This was all I had left. I gave the $300 to Moshe Goren thus shaking him off. I remained petrified in my seat and only over one hour later I went to the four others and asked if anyone had given Goren any money. They all told me that he made the same demand to them but that none of them had given him a single penny!
I would like whoever is reading this now to know that I am the only Israel Air Force pilot who had paid any money for his Air Force flyingcourse! In 2003 the Head of the Israel Air Force History Department came to me to get my life-story for the History Department records. I asked him to go to Moshe Goren who was by that time a Maj.Gen.(Retd.) and ask him if my story was true. The Head of the History Department came back to me and told me that Goren confirmed my story and that he had received $300 from me which he took “for the cause.”
And so we finally landed in LA and Goren took us to one of the most expensive hotels in the business district of tin-foil city. It was late evening. Sarah Guberman received a room for herself and we men were asked to double-up while Goren took a Junior- Suite. I roomed with Emanuel Rothstein whom I knew from school. We fell asleep as soon as we hit our beds.
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