Farewell to a Warrior

Giddy Lichtman 48 photo.jpg

Another of the heroes from my book Angels in the Sky has flown west.  Gideon Lichtman was a classic fighter pilot—swaggering, tough-talking, sentimental, non-politically correct, courageous beyond measure.  Like thousands of his Greatest Generation peers, Giddy stood in line to enlist the day after Pearl Harbor.  He made his way into Army Air Force flight training and distinguished himself as a P-51 Mustang pilot in the Pacific theatre.  Three years later, when Giddy was a student at NYU on the GI Bill, the new state of Israel was besieged by five invading Arab armies.  Again Giddy went to war, joining a ragtag band of volunteer airmen to fly a mishmash of dilapidated warplanes.  Giddy was the first to shoot down an enemy Spitfire fighter with a Czech-built Messerschmitt.  Against overwhelming odds Giddy and his fellow warriors achieved a miracle—and saved Israel.  And then came Korea and Giddy, the quintessential warrior, went back to war.  In later years Giddy became a test pilot, a devoted father, staunch friend to his Machal brothers, famous teller of bawdy jokes, and for thirty years was a beloved high school teacher in Miami.  When my old hero Mitchell Flint passed away last fall, Giddy became the last survivor of the IAF’s original 101 Fighter Squadron.  He died last Wednesday at age 94.  So long, Giddy.  We salute you.