Israelis You Should Know: Ilan Ramon | IFCJ
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Israelis You Should Know: Ilan Ramon


Name: Ilan Ramon

Life: June 20, 1954 - February 1, 2003

Known for: Ilan Ramon was an Israeli fighter pilot and NASA's first Israeli astronaut.

About him: Ilan Ramon was born in Ramat Gan, Israel. His father fled Germany when the Nazis took power, while his Polish mother survived Auschwitz along with his grandmother. Ilan, whose name means "tree" in Hebrew, was born in Israel after his parents made aliyah after the war, and studied electronics and computer engineering at Tel Aviv University.

The young Israeli then served his country as a fighter pilot in the Israel Air Force (IAF). In 1980, he was a member of Israel's first F-16 squadron. The following year, he was the youngest pilot to take part in Operation Opera, an airstrike that destroyed Iraq's unfinished nuclear reactor.

After two decades of flying with the IAF, Ramon was selected as an astronaut for NASA, serving as a payload specialist. Sadly, he was a member of the tragic final flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere on February 1, 2003. Ilan Ramon was survived by his wife and four children, and is remembered as an Israeli who served his nation and the rest of the free world.

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