U.S Youth Guard in Tel-Nof

“We’re excited and interested in what happens here”

U.S Youth Guard in Tel-Nof

For the first time, the teens visited the inside of an israeli helicopter

U.S Youth Guard in Tel-Nof

The excited teens asked the Deputy Commander a plethora of questions

U.S Youth Guard in Tel-Nof

The American teens at the “Nocturnal Birds” squadron

Dozens of teenagers involved with the American Youth Guard (HaShomer HaTzair) visited the Helicopter Formation of Tel Nof Airbase. It began with a briefing, continued with a visit on the helicopter and perhaps will end with a move Israel. “Most of us want to enlist and make a difference, maybe even live here in Israel”
Tal Michael | Photography: Yonatan Zalk

A moment before entering the helicopter, teenage boys and girls gather in the briefing room of the ‘Nocturnal Birds’ Squadron. For the first time in their life, members of the American Youth Guard (HaShomer Hatzair) will be allowed to enter the center of a Ch-53 Sea Stallion, “Tzabar”.

When Deputy Commander of the Squadron, Major Amir, told them a little bit about the squadron’s faraway operations, they became immersed in the action-filled story, with anticipation and curiosity building to learn more about the Israeli existence that is so unfamiliar to them. “Although we live far away, we are Jews and we are care very much about what goes on here in Israel”, smiles 16-year-old Yael Fisher from New York. “During the year, each of us attends different youth programs but during the summer we come with the Youth Guard program for a few weeks to Israel”.

(Almost) New Recruits

The three week visit is meant to unify the Jewish youth with the Israeli community and culture. “We give them an opportunity to experience the day-to-day life in the Israeli community”, explains Keren, the instructor supervising the group. “Israel intrigues them and some want to enlist in the IDF. That is the main reason we brought them to a military base–to observe the core of Israeli society”.

Every year, the IDF definitely succeeds in the task of wowing to young visitors. “A three year course and nine more years of duty in order to become a pilot? That’s Crazy!” says one of the boys with an unmistakably American accent. Major Amir says that it is hardly enough to just answer that sort of question. “You have female pilots in this formation? I want to be one of them”, says Leora Salmon from Canada, a 15-year-old who has all but made up her mind about the next few years.

“I want to come to Israel and enlist–I owe it to the country”, says Leora. “I have family in Israel and it makes me relate even more. Recently, we learned in History class about the Canadian Air Force and its wars. That’s when I began looking into the IAF and decided that I want to be an Israeli pilot”.