NEWBURYPORT — Forty-three years after the Entebbe raid, a successful hostage rescue mission in Uganda in 1976, Rami Sherman, who helped lead the rescue, will share his personal stories with local residents.
Sherman, who is now in his mid-60s, will visit Congregation Ahavas Achim on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door. Sherman, who lives in Israel, served as an operations officer of the unit that stormed a grounded Air France airliner that was hijacked and rerouted to Entebbe, Uganda.
Sherman, whose parents were Holocaust survivors and moved to Israel in 1945, enlisted in the Israeli army in 1972 and was accepted to an elite unit — Sayeret Matkal, the General Staff Special Forces, according to his biography.
He will discuss the hijacking of the Air France flight to Uganda, the battle at the Entebbe airfield to rescue the hostages and the death of Israeli commander Yoni Netanyahu, according to Michael Fried, who helped organize the lecture.
Sherman will also discuss his role in leading the hostages to Hercules aircraft and to freedom, and the connection between that historic event and the situation in Israel today, Fried said.
As operations officer, Sherman and his unit only had a few days to prepare for the rescue mission, creating a high-pressure situation for everyone involved, Fried said.
Sherman coordinated the rescue between the unit and Gen. Dan Shomron, commander of the operation, in addition to the Israeli Air Force, Fried noted.
"He was the second in command for the Entebbe raid ... while we were celebrating our bicentennial," Fried said.
Fried said that during the raid, Sherman's unit was able to rescue all of the passengers except for one who was hospitalized. He noted the raid was "an amazing rescue attempt" and enforces his belief that "Jews have to stick together and take care of each other."
"Especially with the rise of anti-Semitism, it's important for all Jews to stick together," Fried added.
Fried has met Sherman a few times and heard him speak at a tour stop six months ago. When Fried was on a recent trip to Israel, he made arrangements to have Sherman speak in Newburyport.
Fried said he hopes listeners will learn the importance of the event. One interesting fact, Fried noted, is that the passengers were segregated — only Jewish passengers were captured rather than all Israelis on the flight.
"The pilot of the Air France flight, when they segregated the passengers and sent the non-Jews home, he refused to go," said Fried, who added the pilot died three months ago. "He said, 'These are my passengers,' which is amazing."
Staff writer Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.