Israel Mourns the Death of Assaf Ramon, Son of the First Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon
Assaf Ramon was only a teenager when his father, Lt. Col. Ilan Ramon, perished along with his fellow astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia, STS-107, in 2003. Ilan Ramon was Israel’s first astronaut.
Assaf followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the Israeli Air Force and becoming an F-16 fighter pilot. He earned his wings earlier this year.
On Sunday, Assaf Ramon’s life ended tragically when his F-16 crashed on a training mission in the Judean desert. He was laid to rest near his father at Kibbutz Nahalal. The Ramon family’s loss has impacted almost every home in Israel. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu eulogized Ramon:
“Few are the moments in which private pain so strongly shatters the national heart. Today, the entire nation is wrapped in unfathomable grief over the death of Assaf Ramon, who fell from the skies like his father Ilan. This is an awful tragedy for Rona and the entire Ramon family; this is an awful tragedy for the entire people of Israel.”
The US Department of State published a statement of mourning just after the funeral. “We offer our deepest sympathies to Rona Ramon, the Ramon family, and the people of Israel on the loss of their son, brother, and compatriot, Assaf. The Ramon family will always have a special connection to the United States, because of what we endured together during the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy. So as the Israeli people mourn this terrible loss today, we in the United States mourn with them, and hope that the memory of Assaf’s dedicated and honorable service to his country tempers their grief.”
Picture courtesy of IDF Spokesperson.