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Blue Flag brings Israeli, U.S. service members together with similar ties, different callings

Blue Flag brings Israeli, U.S. service members together with similar ties, different callings

Israeli air force Capt. D., 133rd Fighter Squadron F-15I Ra'am pilot, Tel Nof Air Base, Israel, poses for a photograph during exercise Blue Flag 2019 at Uvda Air Base, Israel, November 7, 2019. D. was born in Los Angeles, California and later felt called to relocate to Israel and serve in the Israeli military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

Blue Flag brings Israeli, U.S. service members together with similar ties, different callings

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eden Stoian, 52nd Maintenance Squadron/AMMO precision guided munitions support supervisor, removes an impulse cartridge from a used chaff stick, during Blue Flag 2019 at Uvda Air Base, Israel, November 13, 2019. Stoian was born in Israel, later moved to the U.S. and joined the U.S Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --

No matter who you are or what your background is, you can feel drawn to military service and that calling is different for everyone; Blue Flag highlighted that calling for two service members.

 

Israeli air force Capt. D., 133rd Fighter Squadron F-15I Ra’am pilot, was born in Los Angeles, United States, whereas U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eden Stoian, 52nd Maintenance Squadron/AMMO precision guided munitions support supervisor, was born in Afula, Israel; both men felt a call to service and answered that call in different ways.

 

“I grew up in Nof HaGalil, outside of Nazareth,” Stoian said. “I attended kindergarten and elementary school there, then I moved to Florida when I was ten years old. I have a lot of memories from living in Israel, vacationing in Eilat, visiting the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee, and enjoying the beach in Tel Aviv.”

Blue Flag refreshed Stoian’s memories and gave him a greater appreciation for Israel.

“A lot of places that we have visited so far, like Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Eilat -- there are a lot of little things that I did not notice or appreciate when I was little,” Stoian said. “Now I want to come back to Israel and visit more and take in all those things. I am certainly taking a greater appreciation for Israel back with me to Spangdahlem.”

For years, Stoian felt a calling to serve in the military. Due to his childhood background, he had the option to serve in either the U.S. or Israeli military.

“Growing up in Israel, everyone has to join the military,” Stoian said. “I have always had the feeling I was going to go into the military. Since I did not have to serve in the Israeli military because my family moved to the United States, I had the freedom to choose where I was going to serve and which branch. I chose to serve in the U.S. Air Force, because I felt it was the best choice for me.”

Inversely, Israeli pilot Capt. D. was born and raised in the U.S. and later chose to move to Israel due to his parents’ background.

“I grew up in Los Angeles, California,” D. said. “I was born and raised there until the age of 18, then I made the pretty big move out here to Israel to enlist and hopefully become a pilot.”

For D., the call to serve was also a generational one.

“My parents are originally Israeli and also served in the Israeli Defense Forces,” D. said. “Growing up over the years, I always made it back here to visit my grandparents and made a bunch of friends. I also went to a Jewish high school. I think it had a pretty big impact on me and what I believed in and what was important for me. I had some type of feeling in me that was saying to myself ‘it makes sense’. It was something that is important enough for me to make the big trip out here, enlist in the army and I have been out here ever since.”

Being called to a profession can come in a variety of ways and the way one decides to answer that calling can vary. Stoian and D. each chose to answer the calling they felt by defending the countries they call home.