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Israelis You Should Know: Edmond Wilhelm Brillant

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Name: Edmond Wilhelm Brillant

Life: 1916-2004

Known for: Edmond Wilhelm Brillant was an Israeli naval architect, member of the Haganah (the precursor to the IDF), and one of the founding fathers of Israel's navy.

About him: Born in Poland, Brillant made aliyah (immigrated) to what was then British-Mandate Palestine in 1936. There, he studied mechanical engineering at Hebrew Technion. He also joined the Haganah Flight Club (what would later become the Israeli Air Force) as an instructor. Brillant's service to Israel also extended to volunteering as a railway policeman, escorting trains from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean Sea. While doing this, he was wounded by a terrorist mine - although he checked himself out of the hospital in order to return to his unit.

During World War II, Brillant served with the Royal Navy as a Jewish Haganah volunteer, and his engineering skills were noted as being "of great importance."

After the war, Brillant helped form Israel's navy. One of his contributions was the conversion of the Haganah's immigration ships into the Israeli Navy's first ships for the War of Independence. He also founded the navy's damage control unit, salvage unit, and underwater operations, while establishing the fire-fighting training that every Israeli naval officer and sailor still must pass. In 1956, Brillant planned the operation during a sea battle in which an Egyptian destroyer was captured.

After his naval service, Brillant continued to give back to the Jewish state by leading projects for ZIM, the Israeli cargo shipping company, yet another contribution to Israel's maritime strength, be it military or civil.

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