Today I will tell you a little bit about my grandfather, Ephraim Magen. Born in Iraq, he decided to make Aliyah when he heard about the establishment of the State of Israel. He took some clothes and personal belongings, left a letter to his parents, and joined a group of children who went to Israel by foot. He was a true Zionist.
In 1959 he joined the IDF and chose to be a pilot, a dream he’d had for many years. While taking the necessary training to become a pilot, my grandfather was an excellent student. According to a classmate, Ephraim tutored some of his friends, who without him, would’ve failed.
It was in the army that he met my grandmother, Nella. They decided to get married in 1967 right after the Six-Day War. They had two sons, Shmulik (my father) and Yaron.
On Rosh Hashanah Eve in 1971, my grandfather, the main pilot and commander, and seven other crew members were sent on a mission in Egypt. Their plane was hit by two Egyptian missiles. Out of the eight crew members, seven were killed. Hanania Gazit, the lone survivor, recounted the events that transpired. Two missiles were sent towards them, one hitting plane's wing, causing them to lose control and spin. The commander of the plane, my grandfather, held the steering wheel and shouted at everyone to 'abandon'! He knew that if he held the rudders, he could sacrifice his own life to give his friends a better chance of jumping out of the plane and living. The last moments before the plane crashed were the hardest, Hanania said. A lack of oxygen, horror and extreme upheaval on the plane made it difficult for the other pilots to jump and be rescued. When Hanania landed on the ground, he realized that he was the only survivor.
The seven pilots who died are:
Major Ephraim Magen רס"ן אפרים מגן
Major Zeev Ofer רס"ן זאב עופר
Captain Amos Gay סרן עמוס גיא
Captain Yoram Hayat סגן יורם חייט
Captain Eliav Inbal סרן אליאב ענבל
Master sergeant Itzhak Tamir רס"ר יצחק טמיר
Corporal David Sheri ורב"ט דוד שרי
Our hearts go out to the seven young adults whose lives were cut short, the seven families whose worlds were destroyed and the children who did not get the chance to know their fathers. My father, Shmulik, was 2 years old and his brother, Yaron, was only 2 months old. They didn't grow up with their father by their side.
Ephraim, my grandfather, was only 32 when he died, I wish I could have known him. Every Yom HaZikaron, I am filled with sadness, but also with respect and pride. I know that without my grandfather, and without so many other soldiers like him who sacrificed their lives for our country, we would not be standing here today to tell our story, and to be proud Israelis. With pride in our country and pride in ourselves.
...צעירים טייסים ימותו"
"...מהירים במעוף חייהם ומהירים במותם
"Young pilots will die ...
fast in the flight of their lives and fast in their death ..."
View the slideshow our Shinshinim created for this morning's Middle School Yom HaZikaron ceremony below.