Commander of the IAF and senior members of the IAF came to say Thank You to the outgoing IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. “Under your watch”, said the IAF Commander to the IAF, “the IDF not only functioned well, but also prepared for the future”
Yael Harari and Dana Rousso
Senior members of the IAF accompanied the IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi during his farewell visit with the IAF. The day was filled with exciting events as the IDF Chief of General Staff bade farewell to IAF bases, planes, and helicopters.
The farewell festivities opened with the “Bat” squadron on the Ramon IAF bases where the IDF Chief of General Staff met with members of the squadron, the families, and the friends of the pilot Maj. Amichai Itkis and the navigator Maj. Emanuel Levy who were killed in a Sufa (F-16I) plane crash last November.
Then Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi went on a special flight in the Sufa plane over the area of the Ramon Crater, touring the area of the accident site. “The Sufa plane without a doubt is my favorite’, said Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi.
Later in the day, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi flew in the Karnaf (Hercules) plane that was one of the planes that took part in Operation “Entebbe”, which Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi had participated in as a young Golani Brigade officer. After a short flight, he landed in Nevatim IAF base, where he met with the forum of commanders of the IAF.
The IDF Chief of General Staff watched with excitement a movie put together in honor of his service.
“I think that throughout your service, you did an excellent job of combining all branches together, and the IAF in particular”, said Commander of the IAF Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan in the movie. “I think you can, rightly so, feel that as you are leaving, the IDF, under your watch, not only functioned well, but also prepared for the future”.
After screening the movie, the Commander of the IAF turned to Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi, saying, “we wanted to show you three things: power, compassion, and beauty. The power of the IAF can be seen from the air and from the ground, but mostly through its people. The compassion I think we felt mostly at the meeting with the bereaved families earlier today, and the beauty you saw from the flights”.
The Commander of the IAF awarded Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi an official stamp with his picture and the image of a plane in the background.
“With the role of the IDF Chief of General Staff comes a great responsibility, and I did what I thought was the right thing to do”, said Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi. “I think the biggest challenge for the IAF is to adapt to the power of the changing world and to remain relevant in every arena of battle”.
Last June, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said that his first encounter with the IAF was in the 1970’s when he was a young officer in the Golani Brigade. Since then he developed an outlook of combining the ground forces with the aerial forces, especially with the helicopter systems of the IAF.
As part of his farewell visit with the IAF, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi continued to one of the new plazas in the Nevatim IAF base and planted an olive tree. At the end of the day, the IDF Chief of General Staff went to a runway at one of the bases where a variety of planes and aircraft, as well as senior members of the IAF, paid their respects to the outgoing IDF Chief of General Staff.