Medal for Col. Ramon


IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon has decided to award a posthumous award to Col. Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who perished aboard the Columbia spaceship two months ago. The award is not a battle medal, as he did not die in combat or while on an IDF mission, but is rather a unique decoration recognizing his honorable representation of the Jewish people in front of the entire world.

The Chief of Staff's medal was awarded to Ramon, the IDF announcement stated, in recognition of “the manner in which he represented Israel and the IDF, expressing boundless love and loyalty to his heritage and to his people. In life, as in death, Ramon was a representative and emissary of the people of Israel and in the Diaspora. Col. Ilan Ramon, of blessed memory, will be remembered as an officer, as an exemplary person, as a pioneer, and as a loyal son of his people and of his country.”

Col. Ramon took along with him several items representing Judaism, and informed the world that he planned to commemorate the Jewish Sabbath while up in space. Speaking on a video hook-up from space, he said, "I brought with me items that express the religious-historic Jewish tradition," and that one of them - a miniature Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust - "shows the ability of the Jewish people to survive and make it through even the darkest of times, and to always look forward."

The IDF Spokesperson also explained why he was chosen to represent Israel in space in the first place: “Colonel Ilan Ramon excelled during his service as a pilot and as an officer. As a pilot, he carried out diverse combat missions, and as an Air Force combat officer, he held central command and staff positions - all in his own unique way: with professionalism, modesty, bravery, providing a personal example and exemplary leadership. For all these reasons, Ilan was selected to be the first Israeli astronaut.”