Asaf Ramon to be buried next to astronaut father

By Jessica Elgot, September 14, 2009
Asaf Ramon with a picture of his father

Asaf Ramon with a picture of his father

Israel air force captain Asaf Ramon, son of Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, will be buried today after being killed in an air crash.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has postponed a meeting with US envoy George Mitchell in order to attend the funeral of the 21-year-old pilot.

He will be buried at a military cemetery next to his father.

Captain Ramon was killed when the F-16A Falcon jet he was flying during a training exercise crashed near the Hebron hills.

He is the son of Colonel Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, who died in the Columbia space shuttle a disaster in 2003, when the shuttle disintegrated as it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere.

My wife Sara and I are crying with you, with the entire nation. I'll come to the funeral tomorrow.

Binyamin Netanyahu

Both father and son flew F-16 planes while in the IAF; Col Ramon flew one in Iraq.

The Israel Defence Force said that Major General Ido Nehushtan has ordered an official inquiry into F-16 training flights until further notice,

Major General Nehushtan said: "This is a sad and difficult day. We embrace Rona (Capt. Ramon’s mother) and the kids and the entire Ramon family."

President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, US Envoy George Mitchell, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi sent messages of condolence to Capt Ramon’s family.

Mr Netanyahu telephoned Mrs Ramon and is reported to have said: "My wife Sara and I are crying with you, with the entire nation. I'll come to the funeral tomorrow."

In an interview with Army Radio, the Prime Minister said: "There's something in the story of the Ramon family that symbolizes Jewish glory and the tragedy of this nation. The Ramon family is a symbol, and an example for the generations, that represents the Israeli identity."

Mr Mitchell said: “In the name of the people in the United States, I send my condolences to the Ramon family. It's always difficult losing a loved one, particularly when it is a young man filled with hopes and promises and whose life and future are ahead of him.”

Last updated: 3:10pm, September 21 2009