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IAF Memorial Day Projects Release date 17.04.2018
The "Almog Shiloni House" and "LSYR" Run are two projects which followed the deaths of several Israeli Air Force combatants, meant to contribute to the community and memorialize the fallen soldiers
Carmel Stern

Staff Sgt. Almog Shiloni Z"L served as a commander at the "Negev" Company in Nevatim AFB, and was killed in Tel Aviv on November 10th, 2014. He left behind four brothers and both of his parents, Yosef and Michal Shiloni. "On Thursday, he came home and stayed with us until Monday, the day he was killed", recalled Michal.

Photo: Koral Dvir

On Monday, Almog Z"L left his home and said goodbye to his parents for the last time. When he arrived at the Hagana Bridge, a terrorist ambushed and stabbed him. After being stabbed, Almog fought over his weapon with the terrorist. "Almog would not let go of the weapon. At a certain point, a paramedic arrived to take care of him and his grip was so strong that he could not get the weapon off of him", his mother said.

"He cared for everyone. His commanders said that no one was as determined as he was. When we sat shiva at our house, I had his phone. I saw that his friends from the company planned to come but not all of them could afford it. I felt like they didn't have anyone to talk to. I told my husband and my brother-in-law that we had to establish a place for these lone soldiers. Several months later we founded an association and established the Almog Shiloni House".

Home is Where the Heart Is
The Almog Shiloni House can house four lone soldiers at a time. So far, it mainly housed Jewish soldiers from Almog's "Negev" Company who left their families after enlisting. "We pair each soldier with a family to support him in every possible way", said Michal. Besides lecturing and raising funds for the Almog Shiloni House project, Michal also works as a house mother as part of the project. These days, the association is working on funding another house meant to house no less than 108 lone soldiers.

Photo: Koral Dvir

Four Letters
The “LSYR” Run – named after the Hebrew initials of four students from the Hadarim High School in Hod HaSharon - has been held every year since 1997. The project began after two of the high school's alumni were killed in the 1997 Israeli helicopter disaster – Yiftah Shlapobersky Z”L and Moshe Saban Z”L. “It was a national trauma. 73 soldiers were killed”, said Itzik Miterni, a teacher from Hadarim High School and one of the memorial project’s promoters. “My partner and I tried to think of what we could do to memorialize the students. We brought up the idea of symbolically bringing them back home, from the place they fell to their home in Hod HaSharon. That was the beginning of the run in memory of Shiko (Moshe) and Yiftah".

In October of the same year, Ronen Hayoon, another Hadarim alumnus, was killed in an ambush by Hezbollah terrorists. From then on, the run was held in memory of the three students. “Back then, 40 high school seniors participated in the race. The day before the race was devoted to the combatants' stories. We visited their units and talked to their relatives”, elaborated Itzik.

Photo courtesy of the interviewees

In 2000, a student named Lior Shay participated in the run, and eventually enlisted in the IAF’s Flight Course. “He was permitted to take documents regarding the helicopter disaster from his squadron and asked to present them to every graduating class”, recalled Itzik. “For six years, he would arrive once a year and lecture in front of students from all around the country”. In July 2010, Lior died in a helicopter crash in Romania. Thereafter, the run was held in memory of Lior, Shiko, Yiftah and Ronen. Itzik added: “Lior was remarkably mature, and the way he lived was astonishing”.

Lifetime Achievement
“Every year, we hold tours for the students in Tel-Nof AFB and in an Israeli Armored Corps Base in northern Israel a day before the race”, said Itzik. “The run encourages the students to enlist in the military and make their service meaningful”.

Photo courtesy of the interviewees

Last year, to mark 20 years of activity, Itzik and his partner, Amit, gathered all 19 classes that ran throughout the years for a celebratory run. “Hundreds of alumni arrived. We all ran the last part together. I looked back and saw a crowd of people. It felt very special”, concluded Itzik. “We consider it a lifetime achievement”.