Some young men dream of becoming doctors. Some dream of becoming sports stars. Some young men dream of flying to the stars. And this last dream was the ambition of Lt. Assaf Ramon who was killed in a training accident on Sunday.
Assaf Ramon was the son of Colonel Ilan Ramon who was killed in the Columbia Shuttle Disaster. Assaf graduated the IAF pilot's course this last June and was the valedictorian at graduation.
The cause of the accident is under investigation. All signs are pointing to pilot error.
Israel's political and military leaders joined friends and relatives of Assaf Ramon in mourning the young pilot on Sunday evening. Ramon died Sunday when his F-16 jet crashed in the southern Hevron Hills.Here at Monkey in the Middle we send our condolences and prayers to the Ramon Family. May G-d comfort and console you in this time.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted to the fatal crash, saying, "This is a dreadful tragedy for Rona [Ramon], the entire Ramon family, and the entire nation.
"It is rare that a private tragedy pierces the heart of the nation with such strength,” he continued. “Today we all grieve the death of Assaf, who fell from the heavens like his father Ilan.
"There is no comfort, only tears,” the prime minister concluded.
President Shimon Peres, who himself had been discharged from the hospital earlier in the day, spoke of his personal recollections of both Assaf and his father. “They are the symbol of all that is good in the Jewish State, they were the best of the best,” he said. “What has happened today is more than a tragedy, it is shattering.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed his condolences during a joint news conference with United States special envoy George Mitchell. "This is a painful and sad day,” Barak said. “Our hearts are breaking, and we all feel for Rona and for Assaf's siblings.”
Barak went on to say that despite the tragedy, Israel must “continue to build our strength, while extending a hand to peace.”
Among the IDF commanders to assemble at the Ramon family home was Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. Former Air Force commanders joined the family as well.
Ashkenazi recalled happier times three months earlier, when he joined the family in celebrating Assaf's completion of his pilots' course. “This is a terrible blow... Unfortunately, this is part of the price we pay for living in our beloved land.”
Air Force Deputy Commander Brigadier-General Yochanan Locker expressed sympathy as well. Asaf and Ilan were both exceptional soldiers “who served as an example for many,” he said.