Last night, in a moving ceremony in the presence of family members, IAF commander, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, awarded “Silver Wings” pins to veteran pilots who graduated from the IAF Pilot Course 25 years ago
Vered Talala | Translation: Ofri Aharon
25 years have passed since the end of the 116, 117 and 118 Pilot Courses and since the graduating soldiers were given their Pilot Wings. Once again, graduates of Pilot Courses number 117, 118 and 119 gathered to be awarded with the famous IAF pilot wings from IAF commander, but this time the wings were silver, which signifies 25 years of operational flights. “In our special country, unlike many other countries, a lot of things happen in 25 years,” stated Major General Amir Eshel, IAF commander. “Many events took place over the years: Intifada’s, wars, new aerial threats, special operations, new planes that arrived and more. You have always been there and have donated to the Air Force and to the safety of our country, each of you in his own way”.
The ceremony that took place in Palchamim Airbase proved to be a platform for the Air Force to thank the veterans for their work in the force. Among the receivers were also high-ranking officers, such as brigadier general Tal Kalman, IAF Chief of Staff, a graduate of Pilot Course 117, Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar, Head Air Operations, Brig. Gen. Ori, Head of IAF Intelligence Division, Nevatim Airbase Commander, Brig. Gen. Lihu HaCohen and Ouvda Airbase Commaner, Colonel Harel.
“We may not be as young as the people in the photos presented on the screens, but we are experienced,” Brigader General Tomer Bar stated with a smile. “This day symbolizes my long and meaningful journey and an important era in my life. Everyone came to the ceremony with their wives and children, and it was exciting to see the families all together and to watch our memories and experiences from the course”.
For Brig. Gen. Tal Kalman, IAF Chief of Staff, this special evening symbolized closure with his friends from the course. “It is great to see all of my friends from the course again after so many years,” he shared. “The most significant moment for me was when we received the ‘Silver Wings’. The aspiration for the future is to continue flying for the next 25 years”.
“We couldn’t have done it without our families’ support,” concluded IAF commander. “I appreciate and thank you for your support in the Air Force and in the security of our country”.
The children of the next generation sweetened the special evening, went on the stage and sang and danced to the music. “My father, like all the fathers in the room today, is a fighter pilot”, said 8 year old, Imri, son of Ouvda Airbase Commander, Colonel Harel. “Growing up with that kind of a father has been an experience. The most important thing in my opinion, is to know that my father and all our fathers are doing something important for the country, or as my dad says: ‘Guarding our home’. That’s why I am happy to be part of the Air Force family”.