Earlier this month, an estimated 10,000 Holocaust survivors visited some dozen bases of the Israel Air Force (IAF). One of them was Miriam Lapid, a Holocaust survivor originally from the Netherlands, who visited her own son’s squadron – more than three years after his tragic loss in a civilian helicopter crash.
Miriam was born in the Netherlands in 1933. As a child, she was deported to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, where her father perished. After having survived the Holocaust, she immigrated to Israel in 1953. She then joined Kibbutz Tzora, where she married her husband, Aki, and had five children.
Miriam and Aki at Ran’s airbase
Miriam’s second son, Lt. Col. (res.) Ran Lapid, served as an IDF (Zahal) pilot for over 30 years, until his tragic death in a civilian helicopter accident in November 2009. Over the years, he participated in important events in the history of the IDF (Zahal), including the First Lebanon War, the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. He also served as a flight instructor, both at the IDF (Zahal)’s pilot training school and in the advanced training course for IDF (Zahal) pilots.
Ran receiving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (res.)
So when Miriam received an invitation from the IAF to visit Ran’s base, she was moved by the gesture. The actual visit was even more emotional for her.
“I really appreciate the gesture of the Air Force saluting the survivors,” she said. “They have done it from the heart, showing us great respect and appreciation.”
While it was a powerful day for the visitors in general, Miriam’s personal connection to the IAF made the day even more meaningful – as the Air Force accepted her request to visit her late son’s squadron.
“For most survivors, it was the first time they visited an IAF base, and they were beyond grateful,” she explained. “For me personally, it was a special experience. After I got the invitation, they immediately responded to our request to visit Ran’s squadron. With all the sadness – it was kind of a closure for me, and I am glad that this possibility was given to me on this special day.”
Miriam and Aki visiting Ran’s squadron