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In Honor of Hannukah: Back From Iraq Release date 06.12.2015
Just as the little jar of oil lit the Menorah for eight days, Col. (Res.) Yehuda Koren was able to return from Iraq with last drops of fuel and even had enough for a "Victory Loop"
Aylon Tohar | Translation: Ofri Aharon

The Jewish tradition tells the story of the victory over the Greek occupation in Palestine and the reentrance of the Temple. The Jews find a small jar of oil that ultimately lit their Menorah (seven-branched candelabrum used in the Temple) for eight full days.
Col (Res.) Yehuda Koren, who was a "Mirage-3" pilot in the IAF, also had an oil miracle story of his own: in the 1967 Six-Day War, the small amount of fuel he had, was just enough for him to return from his daring mission in Iraq.
During the war, the military airbases in the Arab countries were destroyed. The story of Col (Res.) Koren begins during the second morning of the war. "I wasn't supposed to fly that morning, when I suddenly received a call from the squadron who instructed me to go escorting 'Vautor' bombers sent out to attack the H-3 airbase in Iraq", he recalled.
He remembers the journey to Iraq's border over Jordan: "We followed the 'Vautors' at a low altitude and we climbed over Jabal al-Druze (the Druze mountain). Its ground was black and rocky, it resembled the moon. We descended from the other side into a flat, yellow desert, that didn't have any villages or roads other than a road for camel caravans that went down from there, who knows from where it came and where it goes?"

"Enough for a victory loop"
The mission ended in a wild "Dogfight" which ended in two enemy jet fighters shut downs.
"I went after the 'Hunter' jet fighter that flew in the field. Striking him with a cannon burst from that distance was like striking a razor. When I shot the long burst I saw pieces flying off of him", he tells. "In addition, I had a problem in the engine's pump that I was only able to extricate on my second try. When I started flying back home, I saw a 'Mig' fighter maneuver with a pair of 'Vautors' and I instructed everyone to disengage. I went after the 'Mig' to close range and stroke him with a short burst - and he crashed".
The shut-downs written on Col. (Res.) Koren's name are considered the two farthest shut-downs from Israeli borders in the history of the IAF.
"We understand that it was time to return home and everyone was asked to disengage and fly west", Col. (res.) Koren continued. "The two 'Vautors' flew towards the west with the 'Mig' behind them in scissor-like movements with the purpose of striking them. Before he could carry out his plan, I flew behind him and shot a burst in his direction which hit his wing".
With less than the minimum amount of fuel necessary, Col. (Res.) Koren flew alongside his mission companions the entire way back from Iraq to the base over the Jordan and Syrian territories, in which at any moment the SAM Divisions in Jordan and Syria could attack them.
"We made it with the last drops of fuel", exclaimed Col. (Res.) Koren. "However, I had just enough fuel to carry out the 'Victory loop', the maneuver conducted by pilots who return from sorties with enemy shut-downs, which includes flying at low altitude and doing a loop upwards to inform the base of the successful shut-down".


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Mirage Aircraft during the Six Day War
Mirage Aircraft during the Six Day War
Archive Photo