All the Way from Australia

Receiving the Ribbon of Excellence from Commander of the IAF All the Way from Australia

“When I arrived here, I began anew” Independence Day 2012: a special interview with Yael Boneh, who came to Israel all the way from Australia to enlist in the IAF and will now receive a Ribbon of Excellence from the President

Lya Shanel

Even after more than a year in Israel, Corporal Yael Boneh, an instruction commander from the “Magic Touch” squadron, says her biggest challenge is still the language. “I learned to speak Hebrew throughout my service and it is still an effort for me, especially when I’m tired”, she says in an accent that is difficult to decipher. “I was born in Israel and at age four we moved to Australia”, says Yael. “I don’t remember anything from beforehand. When I arrived here, I began entirely anew”.

Why did you want to serve in the IDF?
“From a young age I knew that I wanted to serve in the army. When I finished high school, I immediately came. It’s important to me that Jews around the world know that you can leave everything and come contribute to the country”, says Yael.
Even though both her parents served in the IDF, they were surprised at her desire to come to Israel. “In the beginning they didn’t even believe me”, she remembers with a smile.

How did you end up in the IAF?
“When I came I didn’t know anything about the IDF, I just wanted to come and contribute. I went through all the examinations and waited for my drafting date, but it was postponed. In the end, I got sick and tired of it and asked to be drafted immediately, and that’s how I arrived at the IAF and the Ramon airbase. I got lucky, and I’m very happy. The people in the squadron are great and I’m having a great time with them”.

What does your job entail?
“As an instruction commander, I’m responsible for planning the practices and missions at the squadron. We make sure that the pilots practice enough and are ready for any mission”.

How are you managing as a lone soldier?
“I have family in Israel, and I spend weekends with them. Before I came here we barely knew each other, but now they’re very helpful and take care of me. Socially, I felt like I really only fit in when I arrived at the base. I met lots of wonderful people, with whom it’s a pleasure to work”.

What did you feel when you discovered that you’re going to receive a Presidential Excellence Ribbon?
“In the beginning, when I was given the news, I didn’t really understand what it meant. But now, after all the preparations and rehearsals and when I saw how excited the others are, I’m feeling it as well. My parents actually got a lot more excited than me-they know it’s a great honor”.