“The hearts of the American and Israeli people skipped a beat when they saw the smoke over Texas” declared the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Moshe Ya’alon, in a ceremony specially organized at the General Staff Forum, to which Col. Timothy Murphy, American Military Attach?, was invited. The ceremony was opened by a short commemoration of the seven astronauts.

The Israeli Air Force Chief of Staff, Brigadier Eliezer Shakady, read a letter from the Air Force Commander, Major General Dan Halutz: “Ilan took part in a very important part of history. His mission made space a goal for the Israeli Air Force, and we will continue to pursue this goal.

The American Military attach?, Col. Murphy spoke of the strong bond formed between the families, the peoples and the countries. The Lt. Gen. Ya’alon said that Col. Ilan Ramon was sent by the IDF and the whole of Israel on the mission to be the first Israeli astronaut and is thus a source of national pride.

The Chief of Staff emphasized that the participation of the first Israeli astronaut in this mission was due to the close relationship between Israel and the US. “In the face of the dangers and the challenges on our joint values, America and Israel stand together in the same spirit of friendship, vision and excellence that characterized the space shuttle Columbia’s team”.

“The IDF family and the Israeli Air Force” concluded the Chief of Staff “Warmly embrace Rona, Assaf, Iphtach, Tal, Noah and their family. We will always be by their side.”