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Aharon Remez

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Biography of Aharon Remez

General Aharon Remez was born on May 8, 1919 in Tel Aviv, and died April 3, 1994. He was an Israeli soldier and politician, organizer and chief of staff of the clandestine Haganah air service (Sherut Avir) and the second commander of the Israeli Air Force. He was the son of Mapai party politician David Remez.

In 1936, at the age of 17, Remez joined the Haganah. In 1939, the Jewish Agency sent him to New Jersey to train as a pilot. In 1941 he volunteered for the RAF. He was certified as a combat pilot and flew Hurricane, Tempest and other aircraft on the European front.

 General Aharon Remez

At the conclusion of the war, Remez stayed in Europe and helped in gathering survivors and in the Beriha and in Aliya Bet illegal immigration. In February 1947 he completed his RAF sevice and returned to Palestine.

David Ben-Gurion and the Haganah leadership understood that a war was coming. Ben Gurion, more than most, appreciated the enormity of the task involved in transforming the ragtag Haganah , which had no heavy weapons, no tanks, artillery or airplanes, into a force that could fight organized armies. The Haganah had virtually no pilots. Therefore, everyone who had served in the RAF or another air force was gathered to form the nucleus of such a force. In August of 1947, Ben Gurion appointed Remez to draw up a plan for air defense - an "air service." There were a few limitations. The first was that the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine had almost no trained pilots. The second was that they had no airplanes. The third was that the British mandatory government would not allow them to bring any combat aircraft into the country.

Remez's plan solved the problem of building an air force with no pilots and no airplanes. A recreational air club was formed as a cover for the service. Several civilian aircraft were purchased abroad and flown to Palestine, where they were modified to carry bombs. Many of these were of the same model. Because the Haganah had a permit for only one aircraft of that type, all of them were given the same ID markings. During the War of Independence, in the months before the mandatory government was terminated, these light craft served for liaison, reconnaissance, supply and some rather futile "bombing" missions carried out with very primitive "bombs." Aharon Remez was soon appointed chief of the new air service.

Zionist purchasing agents began shopping around for surplus aircraft abroad, and volunteer pilots were brought in (see MACHAL). In particular, the new state was able to acquire transport aircraft, B-17 bombers, and Czech Avia S-199 aircraft. In July, 1948, a few months after the declaration of the state of Israel, Remez became the second commander of the Israel Air Force. The Air Force was a fairly insignificant arm at the time. Remez fought to make it an independent service and to equip it with heavy bombers and advanced aircraft. He met the opposition of Chief of Staff Yigal Yadin, and was forced to resign in December of 1950. He was sent to the United States as procurement officer on behalf of the Israel Ministry of Security. During this period he also completed studies in international relations and business administration at Harvard and Princeton. When he returned, he was appointed advisor to the Minister of Defense for aviation, and he served in this post until he left the IDF in 1954.  He served in the third Knesset for Mapai from 1955 to 1957, and in various posts in the foreign service, Ministry of Security and Ministry of Transportation. He was head of the Israel port authority and the Israeli airport authority, CEO of Kur Industries and ambassador to Great Britain.

Aharon Remez died at age 75, on April 3, 1994.

Ami Isseroff

Additional sources - Israel air force Commanders - Aharon Remez (Hebrew)

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Aharon Remez