Fallen fighter pilot Assaf Ramon was buried Monday in the Nahalal cemetery one day after being killed in a training exercise over the Hevron hills. He was buried next to his father, Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died six years ago in the explosion of the Columbia space shuttle.
Assaf was carried to his final resting place by six of his fellow pilots. He had graduated a pilots course at the head of his class just three months before the fatal crash.
"They promised to watch over you,” Assaf's mother Rona said at his graveside. “Now you watch over your father. I know that your father is watching over you, and is hugging you right now.”
"This was supposed to be my place, this is my grave. You were supposed to bury me here, old and happy with a million grandchildren,” she said.
Assaf's girlfriend Adi parted from him as well, as did his two younger brothers, Tal and Yiftach. The two recited Kaddish, the traditional Jewish mourners' prayer, over their brother's grave. The Shlomo Artzi song “Melech Haolam” was played as the funeral drew to a close.
President Shimon Peres eulogized Assaf at the funeral. “Today Israel lowers its flag, today a whole people is weeping, over the son that has fallen,” Peres declared.
"'Lay not thy hand upon the lad.' These were the words of silent prayer that I made when I pinned the wings on the breast of outstanding pilot-course graduate Assaf a mere three months ago,” the president continued.
Air Force chief Major-General Ido Nehushtan conveyed his condolences to the Ramon family. “Today we are all one family. In our hearts, we embrace Rona, Tal, Yiftah and Noa,” he said.
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