When the funeral on Sunday was over, Yosiel Chalon, 16, knelt by his father’s grave, placed his face in the wreath-covered mound and cried.
Chief Warrant Officer Rami Chalon, 39, a father of four, died Saturday in Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba where he had hung between life and death since he was critically wounded in Gaza – as he attempted to evacuate a wounded soldier from the battlefield.
“I want to be just like you when I grow up,” Yosiel told the hundreds of mourners who filled Hadera cemetery, as he parted from his father in a tearrilled eulogy. “You are a hero.”
“You fought until the last moment,” he said. “Abba [father], I am still crying,” he said, and added that he still could not comprehend that he was delivering his eulogy.
Maor, 15, tearfully said of her father, that, “God only takes the best.”
When she was growing up, Maor said, she was often frustrated that her father spent so much time in the army. Still, she said, he would call often to talk with her.
“Only now do I understand how much you loved your soldiers,” she said.
She promised him that she would always be independent and strive to excel because that is what she knew he wanted.
She asked him, in turn, to watch over her from above.
Hadera Mayor Zvika Gendelman said that Chalon had gone to Gaza to save lives – and his home city, which has been under rocket threat during the war.
Chalon’s brother-in-law said: “We always knew you had a heart full of love, but we never realized how much that was true,” he said.
During Chalon’s last days in Soroka, he said, the family learned a lot about Chalon and the dedication his soldiers felt toward him.
“You were a warrior on the battlefield and in your private life,” he said.