Family members, members of the air force, and acquaintances gathered at the Nahalal cemetery to attend a memorial service for the late Colonel Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut
Rona Ramon, Ilan’s widow, spoke during the ceremony. “My dear love, It is hard to believe that eight years have passed without you, and one year, five months and eighteen days without Asaf (About eighteen months ago, Captain Assaf Ramon, son of Ilan, was killed in a plane crash).
This used to be the place where I felt connected to you, to myself, where I would speak and grow stronger and return home to continue loving, creating, learning, developing and growing. Today, as I come here, everything is undermined. Faith is undermined, imagination is undermined, reality is undermined, but more than all, my soul is undermined. I return home and continue the daily struggle. Strengthened, balanced, and believing, with my beloved ones waiting for me at home.”
Among members of the Air Force present at the ceremony were Air Force Commander, Major General Ido Nehushtan, Head of the Planning Division, Major General Amir Eshel, Chief Education Officer, Brigadier General Eli Shermeister, and Head of Human Resources, Brigadier General Ilan Boger. NASA representatives were also present at the memorial, among them astronaut Barbara Morgan. “Ilan joined our class in 1998 immediately making it better. He radiated special warmth every time he entered a room”, recalled Morgan. “I think I speak on behalf of NASA, the USA and the world, when I say that we greatly appreciate the gift that you, Rona and family, have given to all of us”.
Colonel Eitan, an old friend of Colonel Ramon’s from the “First Jet” Squadron, also spoke to those gathered at the ceremony.
“How painful and incomprehensible is it to talk about you, Ilan, especially here next to Asaf, family and friends. I first met Ilan in the squadron. He was a pilot who, despite his youth, gained the full confidence of his commanders who shared with him every secret and daring campaign of the Air Force of those days. Professional, serious and filled with the joy of flying, he returned to the squadron, this time as a commander. We received a commander who demanded of us all that he demanded of himself. He created a good and supportive environment. You could talk to him about anything and consult even after work hours.”
Colonel Ronen, Commander of Ramat David Base where Colonel Ramon served for many years, turned to the family and said, “Rona, Tal, Yiftach and Noa, the pain is enormous and the cavity is huge. The Air Force loves you, will strengthen you, and will always be by your side.”