Day without questions

The writer recollects his father's and his own army days

Company commander Hezi had three platoon commanders back in the 1950s. He was discharged; they continued to serve in the standing army.


Asa went on to become a battalion commander and was killed during the Six Day War in 1967. Uzi Yairi, who commanded both the IDF General Staff's reconnaissance unit and the paratroopers, was killed during the Sovay Hotel rescue operation in 1975. 


Hezi's third platoon commander, Moni, won the Medal of Valor and was severely wounded along the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.


Hezi himself, a reserve officer, was lightly wounded in the course of the Six Day War.


Platoon commander Ofer had three squad commanders back in the 1970s. He was discharged; they stayed on and went to officers' training.


Ofer and Ron, two young platoon commanders in the 202nd Battalion, were killed during the first week of the 1982 Lebanon War. The third squad commander, Ronny, was wounded in his leg during the same war.


Ofer himself was wounded a year later in the mountains looming over Beirut.


Hezi's world - you come when the military calls you


Hezi and his three platoon commanders belonged to a world where you came when the military called you. Most of their questions were about missing equipment or about the way things were far from what they should be. The answer always was, "Because the IDF is a poor military."


Israel was poor, but small, brave and right. Its best sons had to fight for it; no one asks questions in defensive wars. The names of their battlefields are well-known: Mitla Pass, Um Katef, the Syrian Hermon, the Chinese Farm, and the battle at the Suez Canal.


Only years later did the living, already on their way to cemeteries and hospitals, start to deal with the many patriotic lies they had been fed.


Ofer and the three squad commanders grew up in a country that has changed significantly since they were elementary school students; the country has grown four times its original size and changed its face.


The military they joined was large and rich, but full of questions. They chased stone-throwers in the territories (although whatever they did was nothing compared to what succeeding generations had to do).


Ofer's generation in southern Lebanon


Their combat activities mainly entailed tiny raids in Lebanon, night-long affairs after which you go home and tell the guys. They never saw themselves pursuing a military career, a word combination utterly unacceptable by the previous generation.


The war in which they were wounded was an Israeli invasion of foreign territory disguised as a war of defense. It had been controversial from day one. From its first night, their friends were injured and killed under the thick shadow of a lie.


No one remembers the names of all the places where they were killed and wounded. Whoever survived those battles was not welcomed by victory albums and the glory that is the share of those who save the nation. They returned to the lame feeling of a false war, which did not end long after they had returned from it.


There is a connection between these two stories, which does not conclude with parallel details. Platoon commander Ofer is the writer of these lines. Platoon commander Hezi is my dad.


'He remembers his dead and I remember mine'


Memorial Day for fallen soldiers, in which he remembers his many dead and I remember mine, is not a day in which we engage in thinking about deep things, or wonder where they would lead us.


But whoever does not dedicate all other 364 days in the year to wonder over that may, in the end, perpetuate these statistics, one generation after the next.


פרסום ראשון: 05.10.05, 19:29
 new comment
This will delete your current comment