A lone soldier from the United States made history on Wednesday when she became the first American woman to complete the Israeli Air Force’s prestigious pilot course. Her graduation ceremony took place at the Hatzerim Airbase in the Negev.
Boston native Lt. O., 21- a member of a small group of women who have completed the course in the past 25 years—is one of only two women out of a total of 39 current graduates who did so this week.
Lt. O., whose father had been a fighter-jet navigator in the IAF, enlisted in the IDF with no immediate family in Israel. She arrived in the country and took the IAF’s qualifying exams after a post-high school gap year that she spent backpacking through Central America.
“Aside from this historic milestone, it is equally important to consider that Lt. O. was under no obligation to serve in Israel’s Air Force, but rather volunteered to become a lone soldier to safeguard Israel. From the Jewish community of Boston, mazel tov and thank you—we salute!” said the Boston-based LIBI organization in a statement.
LIBI is the leading organization that provides support for Israel’s lone soldiers by establishing “Soldiers’ Houses” and hostels all over Israel.
These houses and hostels provide a home for lone soldiers (soldiers without family in Israel) and soldiers serving at bases far away from their homes. The troops receive food, lodging and support from a professional staff and enjoy cultural and educational programs. These homes are also used to accommodate and host army units during their activities.