Lone IDF soldier reunites with grandmother as paratrooper graduation gift

Soltan Kozolov received the shock of his life when he saw his grandmother, whom he hadn't seen in years, waiting for him in his room; 'At first I thought something bad had happened, but when I got to my room - there she was,' he says

Korin Elbaz Alush|
For any soldier serving in the Israeli military, graduating the prestigious airborne brigade course in an emotional affair, but it was more so for one lone soldier from the Paratroopers Brigade.
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  • Twenty-one-year-old Soltan Kozolov received the shock of his life when he saw his grandmother he has not seen in years waiting for him in a room right after completing his paratroopers training course.
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    Soltan Kozolov
    Soltan Kozolov
    Soltan Kozolov and his grandmother Galina
    (Photo: The IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    Soltan was raised by his grandmother, Galina, since his mother's work left her little time to take care of him. When he was a high school student in Kazakhstan, he studied with the intent of joining the Kazakhi army, but life had other plans for him.
    His mother married an Israeli man and made Aliyah, hoping her son would come along. "She sent me photos of Israel. I saw the Mediterranean Sea and was intrigued. My grandma was opposed to me going, but I managed to convince her to let me go for a summer vacation."
    Aged only 15, Soltan got on a plane and saw the Holy Land for the first time. "I fell in love with Israel - the view, the sea, the people. I had plenty of allergies growing up, but in the Israeli air they weren't an issue anymore. I called my grandma and told her I have to stay here."
    Kozolov became an Israeli citizen, joined the IDF Paratroopers Brigade and finished the training course with flying colors. Surprisingly, the mother of one of his comrades, Illa Polak-Moshe, heard about him not seeing his grandmother for a long time and decided to help.
    She contacted the chairman of the Jewish Agency Major General Doron Almog, himself a former paratrooper who participated in Operation Entebbe. Along with agency personnel, the Foreign Ministry and others - they were able to get Galina to Israel in time to see her grandson graduate the course.
    "I have no words to explain what I felt when I saw her," Soltan said. "Before the ceremony began, my commanding officer told me to go with him. At first I thought something bad had happened, but when I got to my room - there she was. I froze, completely lost for words. My eyes began tearing up. After six years of longing to hold her, I was finally able to do that."
    Major General Doron Almog said: "A grandmother and her beloved grandson got to hold each other again. It was a beautiful moment."

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