New Israelis, New Soldiers

Danielle Cotorio, 20, lived in 10 countries before moving to Israel and enlisting New Israelis, New Soldiers

“In my job I experience meaningful moments at every takeoff” At the height of the holiday season, the IAF Magazine headed out for a little talk with soldiers and officers of the force that serve Israel far away from home. These soldiers separated from their families, overcame difficulties and came to Israel to put on their military uniforms. “This is the only place I feel at home”

Loren Mashiah and Shir Golan

More than 5000 lone soldiers serve the different arms of the IDF. More than 10%, as much as 550 soldiers, belong to the IAF Family. Take one look around and you can get a vivid taste of various continents around the world, soldiers who decided to venture to a new land out of their patriotism to the IDF and the Israeli nation.

Danielle Cotorio, a 20-year-old from Tel Aviv was born in Venezuela. By the age of 18, she had already lived in 10 countries. Two years ago she moved to Israel and enlisted. “I came to Israel because I didn’t belong in any other country”, she says. “This is the only place I feel at home”. Nowadays, Danielle operates as a noncommissioned communications officer at the southern Hatzerim Airbase. “I wanted to enlist in order to learn Hebrew and meet new people. When I was in basic training I lived with 60 other girls and we were like one big family”.

First Lieutenant Ronel Lang, 20, left England two years ago and arrived in Israel. Today, she is an operational officer at the Defenders of the South squadron of Ramat David Airbase. “My parents are Israelis who met in England and got married, that’s where I was born”, she says. “Growing up, I heard a lot about my parent’s military days, and when I turned 18 I decided to stop my university studies. I was willing to give everything up in order to come to Israel and enlist. The first time I put on my uniform was very emotional. I felt the pride of representing your country and giving back”.

Today, after three years of experiences, countless efforts and adjustment to a new environment, she looks back and smiles at the sometimes difficult but happy memories she accumulated throughout the years. “My role confronts me with important moments before every takeoff. Every time a helicopter goes out on an operational mission–evacuating injured soldiers and so forth, I feel as if I’ve taken part in saving lives. Even when times are rough, you get support from the people around you. I know I made the right choice”.