Giora Epstein Military Person
Colonel Giora "Hawkeye" Epstein (Hebrew: גיורא אפשטיין, born 1938), today Giora Even (Hebrew: גיורא אבן), is a retired colonel in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and a fighter ace credited with 17 kills, 16 against Egyptian jets, making Epstein the "ace of aces" of modern, supersonic fighter jets and of the Israeli Air Force. Epstein was an active IAF pilot from 1963 until 1997, when he retired at age 59. He, like many retired IAF fliers, is currently a captain for El-Al Airlines. Epstein joined the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in 1956 during the Suez War. He was initially rejected from flight school because of a heart condition and began his military career as a paratrooper. While traveling with the IDF's parachute demonstration team, Epstein changed his last name to Even ("stone" in Hebrew). He left the IDF in 1959 before returning two years later to again apply for flight school. After gaining medical clearance (mostly through his own stubbornness), Epstein began fighter training. He soon gained the nickname "Hawkeye" due to his extraordinary eyesight.
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