Shmuel Tankus, 97, former Israeli navy commander

Shmuel Tankus, the fifth commander of Israel’s navy, who trained generations of sailors starting in the pre-state days, died at age 97 on March 4.

“He was an extraordinary person who trained entire generations of naval officers both for the IDF’s navy and Israel’s merchant navy,” said Ami Ayalon, a former navy commander in chief and ex-head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service. “This man made a huge contribution to the State of Israel. On a national level, his contribution as a naval trainer maybe even exceeded his legacy as the navy commander.”

Tankus, who was born in Jaffa, helped Jewish immigrants who came to Palestine by ship. He also sailed to Europe three times to help immigrants leave their home countries.

After the State of Israel was established, Tankus and other veterans of the Palyam pre-state naval service helped found the Israeli navy, a small but elite force to this day. — jta