By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) William Weinert, Commander, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs
April 9, 2010 - NORFOLK (NNS) -- A memorial ceremony took place at the base chapel on board Naval Station Norfolk April 8 to commemorate the life and heroism of the pilot of an E-2C Hawkeye that crashed March 31.
Lt. Miroslav Steven Zilberman, 31, of Columbus, Ohio, assigned to the "Bluetails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, was killed March 31, when his aircraft crashed while returning to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) from a mission over Afghanistan.
The incident started as the Hawkeye was making preparations to land on the carrier. The starboard engine lost oil pressure leading it to eventually shut down, but also causing the aircraft to become uncontrollable. Zilberman recognized that the crew needed to bail out and ordered the three crew members to jump as he kept the aircraft at an acceptable attitude, which unfortunately left him little chance to bail out. For his heroic action and for saving the lives of his three crew members, Zilberman was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Family, friends and distinguished guests were in attendance at the packed-house memorial ceremony, as those who served and flew with him discussed their memories of the good humored and high-spirited aviator.
"He gave 110 percent of himself to ensure others would succeed without thinking twice," said Lt. Adam Horn, of the "Bear Aces" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 124. "Steve is a true hero."
Zilberman's life and accomplishments were recognized not only by his friends but also his superiors.
"He was a born leader. He cared extremely about his people. He knew them, and he led by example," said Cmdr. Dave Mundy, executive officer of VAW 121. "He was one of the best aviators I've ever flown with."