Captain Asaf Ramon
Reproduction photo: Yariv Katz
Gravesite at Nahalal cemetery
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Peres eulogizes pilot Asaf Ramon

Son of Israel's first astronaut laid to rest by father's side in Nahalal cemetery. Brothers say Kadish, President Peres says that when he pinned pilot's wings on Asaf he prayed: 'Do not raise your hand against the boy'. US publishes statement of mourning

Air Force Captain Asaf Ramon was laid to rest Monday at Nahalal cemetery next to his father, Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut. Assaf was killed when the F-16 plane he was piloting crashed into Hebron Hills on Sunday.


Asaf's brothers, Tal and Yiftach, said Kadish and President Shimon Peres gave a speech at the gravesite in the name of "a nation awed and stricken with grief; an entire country silent and weeping".  

Coffin accompanied by Asaf's friends (Photo: Hagai Aharon)


Peres told the two brothers that when he had pinned a set of pilot's wings on Asaf's uniform just three months ago he had said a silent prayer, "Do not raise your hand against the boy".


Peres turned to Asaf's mother and said, "Rona, you were brave already. You were brave and you will remain brave."


He added, "I know there have never been words that can heal. An entire nation – every citizen – is hurting and crying, each on the shoulder of his brother. But this is not enough to fill the space of the heartbeats when you hear the boy come home from the base for the weekend, and they can never fill the empty bed, the closet, and the shirt with the wings, the laughter echoing in the home, the hug, and the kiss."


The president said, "Today we are all Ramons. You will return to the photos in the father's albums… especially to the memories, the moments of glory in space and in the sky, and to the breaking points in the skies of Texas and the Hebron Hills.


"Our broken hearts are with you in every tear, every smile-sparking memory, and every moment of wrenching pain. Consolation is far away but there are things to be proud of, and there are things to hope for," he added.


Rona Ramon also spoke at the funeral. "You've left me in a trap," she said. "Ilan, I know that now you are watching him but I wanted him here a little longer."


Addressing Asaf, she said, "I know your father is watching you now, holding you, and loving you. To me you are king of the world."


Among those attending the funeral Monday were IAF and IDF officers and politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US special envoy George Mitchell.


Ramon's coffin was carried by six of his pilot friends, behind whom walked his mother, Rona, his two brothers, Tal and Yiftach, and his sister, Noa.


The US State Department published a statement of mourning just after the funeral. "We offer our deepest sympathies to Rona Ramon, the Ramon family, and the people of Israel on the loss of their son, brother, and compatriot, Assaf," the statement said. 


"The Ramon family will always have a special connection to the United States, because of what we endured together during the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy. So as the Israeli people mourn this terrible loss today, we in the United States mourn with them, and hope that the memory of Assaf's dedicated and honorable service to his country tempers their grief." 


Pilots to resume training

Earlier Monday Brigadier-General Eden Atias, the commander of the base from which Ramon left for his final flight, said pilots would resume flying on Tuesday.


Atias, who also attended the funeral, said Ramon's friends had not finished training and that they would have to pick up where they left off.


"We are taking the youths back to the sky to continue this important training despite the pain and the sorrow accompanying us at these moments," he announced.


"We are at the final stages of an investigation of the accident yesterday. Investigators are checking all of the leads. We still have no final conclusions regarding the reasons, and as of now we are mainly focusing on consoling the family and the young soldiers," Atias added.


פרסום ראשון: 09.14.09, 17:49
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