IAF marks 25th year of Ron Arad’s captivity

IAF ceremony was held at same time as government meeting on Gilad Shalit’s return

Date: 16/10/2011, 1:07 PM     Author: IAF Website

While Israeli government officials voted on the agreement to free the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit last week, a ceremony was held marking IAF pilot Lt. Col. Ron Arad’s 25 years in captivity. IAF commanders, family and friends attended the ceremony.

25 years ago, six F-4 Phantom II aircraft went on an operation over Sidon, Lebanon, during which a plane was damaged, causing both crewmen to eject. Pilot Yishai Aviram escaped while Lt. Col. Arad was taken captive by Lebanese militiamen.

“Lt. Col. Arad is an open wound in the body and heart of the Israeli Air Force,” said IAF Commander, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan at the ceremony.

Lt. Col. Arad’s wife, Tammy, spoke at the ceremony, opening her speech with the excitement circulating around the government meeting discussing Gilad Shalit’s return.

Five years ago, 20 years after Lt. Col. Arad fell into captivity, his family and friends along with the Israeli people heard of Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping and took an active role in the struggle to return Shalit to his family.

Most of Lt. Col. Arad’s friends were informed of the agreement to return Shalit home during the ceremony.

“Gilad’s return is a great consolation,” said Ronen, a close friend.