When we think of the greatest people of all time, there is one name that deserves to be on the list.
That man is Ilan Ramon.
He was famous later in his life, but his truly amazing acts (of which many are
still kept top secret) began way before he even went into space.
Ilan Ramon became famous as the first Israeli astronaut for NASA to fly into space.
But his Air Force career began decades earlier.
Ilan was a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, and among all of his missions, only some are known publicly.
For example, in 1981, what is known by many in Israel is that Ilan was part of an elite team that struck Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in Iraq.
What is not well known is the great risk that was involved in this strike.
The story goes that Israel’s Air Force was confident that they would succeed in putting the nuclear reactor out of commission.
But, what they were less sure about was their ability to fly home unharmed. The plan included an initial wave that would puncture the nuclear reactor followed by a second wave that would destroy the nuclear reactor through the doorway setup by the first wave.
The Israeli fighter jets would have to fight off any attackers both in Iraq or over Jordan on their way back to Israel.
The main concern was for the last plane – the one on the tail of the entire mission.
The youngest pilot who volunteered to be in the most dangerous plane was Ilan Ramon who said that he was still single and had yet to build up a family and he ought to be in the hot seat.
The mission was a total success and was crowned by some as a victory against the attempt to perpetrate a nuclear Holocaust.
Even Bill Clinton – 14 years later – would applaud the attack saying, “everybody talks about what the Israelis did at Osiraq, in 1981, which, I think, in retrospect, was a really good thing. You know, it kept Saddam from developing nuclear power.”
He later became an astronaut with NASA and completed missions in space.
Tragically, he and the entire crew of the Columbia were killed upon reentry to Earth’s skies.