Robert F. McGuire Jr., 'Irish Moses,' Dies at 94
Robert F. McGuire, Jr., a pilot dubbed the "Irish Moses" for his key role in airlifting 45,000 Yemenite Jews to the new-born State of Israel, has died at the age of 94 at his home in Northridge.
McGuire, an Irish American, was the chief pilot of Operation Magic Carpet in 1949-50, when Alaska Airlines, for which he worked, was contracted by the American Joint Distribution Committee for the secret and risky airlift. Flying over hostile Arab territory during Israel's War of Independence, McGuire and fellow pilots crammed their human cargo into DC-4 planes, at three times their normal capacity.
Despite numerous close calls, the airlift never lost a plane or passenger.
Even after Alaska Airlines bowed out of the operation, McGuire continued the work by buying and leasing planes and setting up Near East Air Transport.
Before Magic Carpet, McGuire had been hired by the United Nations and relief organizations to fly Jewish refugees from China to Israel.
McGuire, a World War II veteran, never talked and sought recognition for his services to the Jewish state, even after then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion lauded him as the "Irish Moses."
His feelings for the Jewish people may also have been influenced by his father, who served as an American judge at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.
Last year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center conferred its medal of valor on McGuire. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
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Gerald Fleishman died May 27 at 72. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, sons Jeffrey and James; two grandchildren; and three stepgrandchildren.
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Lieza Gitelis died May 29 at 81. She is survived by her son, Vladimir (Sofiya); daughter, Rina (Mark Pravin); three grandchildren; and one great grandchild. Mount Sinai
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SOLEIMAN KERMANI died May 26 at 76. He is survived by his wife, Parvin Kohan. Chevra Kadisha
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RANDALL CURTIS KRAMER died May 30 at 45. He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline; sons, Sydney and Noah; brother, Derek (Nancy); two nephews; aunts Lana (Mike) and Gail (Tom); and uncle, Albert (Karen). Hillside
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IRWIN SAXON died May 29 at 73. He is survived by his brother, Joseph. Groman
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JOAN WATNICK died May 25 at 77. She is survived by her daughter, Sandra Nadel; brother, Howard (Thelma) Lockwood; and grandaughter, Marsha Nadel. Chevra Kadisha
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ERIC WOYTHALER died May 30 at 94. He is survived by his sons, Julius, Albert and Ben; six grandchildren; and brother, Rabbi Bert. Groman