Sunday, December 08, 2019

A Hero of Entebbe - Meeting Sassy Reuven

Last night I went to a presentation at Chabad House given by Sassy Reuven.

Who is Sassy Reuven you ask? One of the leaders that took part in the hostage rescue at Entebbe Uganda on July 4, 1976.

One of the most successful, and certainly one of the farthest ranged, hostage rescues in history, The Entebbe Raid was a major historical event and one of the turning points in fighting terrorism and aircraft hijackings.

An Air France Plane, set to fly from Tel Aviv to Paris with a stop in Athens Greece was hijacked by 2 Arab and 2 German Red Army Faction terrorists who were able to get weapons including handguns, grenades, and explosive by bribing Greek airport security.

The plane was first diverted to Libya and then flown to Uganda where the terrorists were joined by 3 more Arab terrorists and protected by the Ugandan army as the president of Uganda Idi Amin, had become very close to the terrorists after he broke off relations with Israel, after Israel had refused to give him fighter jets to attack Tanzania.

The non-Jewish passengers were released, but the Captain, Michel Bacos and crew of the Air France jet insisted on remaining with the Jewish hostages and not leaving any of their passengers behind. 94 Jewish passengers and 12 crew remained.

The terrorists were demanding $5 Million dollars and the release of terrorists held by Israel, France, and other countries.

The Israelis were able to formulate a plan to rescue the hostages and put it into action. Flying 2,400 miles from Israel, through hostile airspace they would land at the airport and rescue the hostages. To increase the deception, the first Hercules would be loaded with a Black Mercedes and two land rovers to look like Idi Amin's entourage as he had frequently visited the airport during the hostage situation.

4 C-130 Hercules with two carrying troops, a third with refueling equipment and the fourth setup as a hospital, and two Boeing 707s, one setup as a Command Center and the other as another hospital aircraft accompanies the formation. Flying at 30 feet above the Red Sea, they remained under Saudi and Egyptian radars, and once passing the Red Sea and the radars then climbed to 20,000 feet for the flight to Uganda.

Landing at 7 minute increments, the C-130s landed at the airport.

Sassy was in the first C-130 Hercules to land at Entebbe and the second man to touch the ground in Uganda, following Nehemiah Tamari, the commander of the paratrooper ground force towards the New Terminal. The job of his section of the paratroops' was to secure the New Terminal building as Sayaret Matkal freed the hostages in the Old Terminal. Other sections were to secure the runway, setup runway lights, and another Sayaret Matkal detachment would destroy the MiG-17 and MiG-1 fighters based at the airport to ensure the Ugandan Air Force could not engage the Israelis once they had left the airport.

The paratroopers secured the new terminal, having one man seriously wounded.

At the Old Terminal, the leader of the ground force, Yonatan Netanyahu, brother of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu was killed, shot by Ugandan army soldiers shooting from the control tower.

The mission was a success however with all but 4 of the hostages rescued. 3 Of the hostages were killed during the rescue operation, and the fourth, 74 year-old Dora Bloch, who had been taken to a hospital in Kampala and was not at the airport during the raid, was killed days later on Idi Amins orders. All 7 terrorists were killed along with 45-50 Ugandan soldiers.

The entire operation on the ground lasted 53 minutes and the assault on the terminals lasted only 30 minutes.

Later immortalized in the Israeli movie Operation Thunderbolt and then in the the quite good Raid on Entebbe and then completely messed up by Hollywood in the recent 2018 film 7 Days In Entebbe that did its best to take the terrorist's point of view in the affair and turned an amazing historic hostage rescue it into a rather dull politically-correct bit of nonsense.

Meeting one of the heroes from the Entebbe hostage rescue mission was pretty impressive. Sassy Reuven was a very engaging speaker and gave a great talk combining facts humor and history into a riveting presentation. He spoke on both his and Israel's and Uganda's background before the hijacking, the hijacking itself, and then the planning and execution of the raid.

He's touring around the US speaking about the Entebbe hostage rescue, so if you get a chance to listen to him in person, it's well worth it.


Old NFO said...

Interesting. I'll have to check and see where he's presenting.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aaron;

That is cool as hell(pardon the language). I would have loved to hear him speak. And as far as Dora Bloch, the Germans called Idi- Amin "Menchenfresser" slang for "man eater". People are convinced that Idi-Amin killed her then ate her. Yuck I know, but Idi-amin was evil that way.

Unknown said...

Upon reading your post I tried to find calendar for speaking engagements of Sassy Reuven. All I found is this;

The video is very interesting. Thank you for this wonderful string of posts about Israel.


Unknown said...

Notice also on the above link, on the right hand side are several more videos related to the Entebbe raid.