US Navy calls off search and rescue efforts, pays rich tribute to missing pilot

April 4, 2010

The US Navy has suspended search and rescue efforts to locate the fourth crew member from the E-2C that crashed on March 31 and declared the missing pilot deceased.

According to the Navy, the E-2C Hawkeye from VAW 121, the Bluetails, stationed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was returning from conducting operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) when the aircraft experienced mechanical malfunctions and the crew performed a controlled bailout. The aircraft crashed approximately five miles from the ship and three of the four crewmembers were recovered shortly afterwards in good condition without significant injuries. However, the fourth crew, Ukraine-born Lt. Steven Zilberman, 31, was missing.

“Several ships and aircraft, including the Eisenhower, Carney and other US Central Command Navy and Air Force aircraft searched more than 5,300 square miles for the missing aviator,” the Bahrain-headquartered Navy said.

“Lt. Zilberman was an exceptional Naval Officer and pilot who embodied the best of what America represents,” said Capt. Roy Kelley, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. “We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss of a fellow aviator and Shipmate. He will be truly missed, and our heart goes out to the Zilberman family during this very difficult time.”

Cmdr. Joseph F. Finn, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121’s commanding officer, also paid tribute to Zilberman from Columbus, Ohio, who served in the Navy for nearly eight years. “This is a heart-wrenching loss for the Zilberman family and the Bluetail family” said. “It is our exceptional people that are the strength of our community and our Navy,” he said. “Steven was one such individual. He bravely and willingly accepted the risks of an inherently dangerous job. He was a fine aviator and we are better people for having him in our lives. I extend my deepest sympathy to Steven’s family and friends. He will not be forgotten.”

VAW 121 is homeported in Norfolk, Va. and is part CVW 7 assigned to the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.


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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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