When 27-year-old Canadian immigrant Or Klein completed the Air Force Officers Training Course this week, he accomplished a mission that he undertook in honor of a friend who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of his country.

Klein, a lone soldier, made aliya from Vancouver in 1999, leaving his home and family behind him.

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He joined the IDF in 2002, and met a young man named Iftah Shrair, who would later become a close friend. The two took separate paths in the army – Klein went on to become an electrical engineer for a squadron of fighter jets, while Shrair joined the paratroopers, and eventually became an officer and a platoon commander.

Klein said on Thursday that Shrair was an inspirational officer.

“He set a personal example. He loved the homeland and contributed to it. Education was a supreme value for him,” he said.

Klein completed his service in 2005 and returned to Vancouver. A year later, the Second Lebanon War broke out.

“I wanted to help the country. The air force squadron had become a family to me. I loved the army,” he recounted.

Klein returned to Israel in the first week of the war and reported for reserve duty. A week later, Shrair was killed in action.

“That was very difficult for me,” Klein said. He then made a decision.

“I very much believed in his path and wanted to walk down it,” he said.

A week after Shrair’s death, Klein signed on for a position in the standing army, and set his sights on becoming an officer like his friend.

“I wanted to express all of his values,” he said.

At first, the road to becoming an officer was not easy for Klein, but with the help of his air force commanders, he was eventually accepted into the officers training course seven months ago. His graduation ceremony was held on Wednesday, where Klein was congratulated by OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan. Klein will serve in the air force’s technical division.

“I feel a big satisfaction. This is a dream come true. I wanted to keep my friend’s memory alive, and now I have the tools to do that,” Klein said.

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