U.S. Navy pilot cited for heroism

A Jewish pilot was awarded one of the U.S. Navy’s highest honors for sacrificing his life to save his three crew mates.

Lt. Miroslav “Steve” Zilberman was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism over the Arabian Sea on March 31, when he assumed manual control of an E-2C Hawkeye after it blew an engine.

He kept the plane steady and ordered his crew to eject. Zilberman, who was returning from an Afghanistan mission, was declared lost at sea three days later.

“He held the plane level for them to do so, despite nearly uncontrollable forces,” Navy Rear Adm. Philip Davidson wrote to Zilberman’s parents, emigres from Ukraine who settled in Columbus, Ohio. “His three crewmen are alive today because of his actions.”

Zilberman, who was based in Virginia Beach, Va., also is survived by his wife and two small children. He was 31.