Father's experience in IDF shaped lieutenant's sense of service to country

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Jonathan Soferr
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- My father was born in Israel and served in the Israeli Defense Force for many of his formative years. It was his experience that shaped my sense of service. 

He came to the United States in 1978 where he met and married my mother in Massachusetts.

When I was little, he told me wonderful stories of traveling through the deserts in an armor brigade and playing music with his friends during tours. When I grew older, he let more details come forward. I learned that for him and the soldiers around him, the fight wasn’t solely about a sense of duty – it was a sense of survival. 

For my father, and for Israel, every fight was about the survival of a people and a nation. When I visited Israel during my teenage years, I realized that this is still the case.

We Americans are privileged to live with seemingly impenetrable freedom. Many people around the world do not have the luxury of trusting that conflict will never touch them. 

I took this sense of thankfulness and set my sights on giving back to my country and protecting our freedom through service. I decided the best way to achieve this goal was attending one of the service academies. 

Combining my goal with a love for flight and a knack for science, I applied to the U. S. Air Force Academy and was accepted.

I had four of the most challenging and rewarding years at the Academy and met some of the closest friends in my life. Throughout all the challenges and work, I never lost sight of my heritage and my father’s experience. It drove me to be better and to strive for the best.

Although I loved research, I knew I wanted to have a more immediate effect on the protection of our nation. I put my name in the hat for a pilot slot after the Academy and was selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base.

My arrival at Vance and Enid, Oklahoma, was a bit of a culture shock for someone who spent their childhood in a suburb of Boston. However, I was welcomed with open arms, and I entered the 71st Student Squadron with excitement and remembrance in my heart.

Remembrance of the sacrifices of my father and the soldiers alongside him, protecting a nation vulnerable from every angle, serving without question. And excitement for my chance to do the same for my nation while learning how to be an Air Force pilot -- a job many only dream of doing.

I am proud of my family in Massachusetts, my extended family in Israel and my new family here at Vance. I look forward to serving alongside friends, as my father did before me.