Meet Corporal Jesse Berkowsky, 26 years old and hailing from New Jersey. Jesse is celebrating his birthday today, but his present already arrived last Thursday.
Jesse and his friends finished their months-long basic training in the Paratroopers Training Base, marked by an arduous beret march up to Jerusalem, which occurred last week. At the end of the march, graduates receive their trademark red berets and turn from trainees to combat soldiers. For Jesse, who made aliyah from the US and volunteered to serve, it was an exciting occasion. However, it became truly memorable with the visit of his family.
Jesse’s father, Col. Peter Berkowsky, is a US Air Force vet. He flew in from New Jersey, accompanied by the rest of the family, to attend Jesse’s once-in-a-lifetime ceremony. The touching reunion was held during the ceremony, as Peter and the rest of the family got to watch Jesse wear his Paratroopers beret with pride.
“receiving the red beret was a tremendously proud moment for me and the culmination of months of hard work. I’m excited to finally become a paratrooper and I hope to serve honorably for as long as I am a soldier”
Their story is another prime example of the close ties between the Israeli and American armies. In just the second week of ‘Austere Challenge 12‘, the largest US-Israeli aerial defense exercise in history, stories of Israeli-American cooperation are rife.