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Medal of Distinguished Service, Six Day War
The story of three Medal of Distinguished Service recipients in the Six Day War
They fought in 1967, saw their comrades and commanders killed and managed to take command under fire and save lives; for this, Ehud Aviran, Shmuel Dror and Yossi Shain were awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service.
Three soldiers who fought in the Six-Day War in 1967 received Medals of Distinguished Service for their role in combat, for displaying initiative and resourcefulness in actions that culminated in the saving of lives.

 

 

Ehud Aviran: An artillery officer who became a battalion commander

On the 9th of June, in preparation for the difficult battle on the Golan Heights, Lt. Ehud Aviran was dispatched to join the 8th Armored Brigade of the legendary battalion commander, Col. Aryeh Dayan ('Biro'). "On the way, there was an accident and my half track crashed into a car and I injured my knee. The injury was nothing compared to the fact that they told me that my cousin was killed. That's how I went to war," he recalls.

 

Six Day War; marking 50 years
Six Day War; marking 50 years
 

 

During the battle, Dayan was seriously injured. Some of the tank officers in the battalion were wounded and some were killed. Aviran sustained a head injury. "I saw that Biro was hurt… but he refused to leave. They bandaged his face, but in the end, they had to pull him out," Aviran said.

 

Ehud Aviran
Ehud Aviran

 

The number of casualties eliminated most of the brigade's chain of command. Despite his injury, Lt. Aviran decided to remain in battle and refuses to be evacuated. "After Biro was wounded, someone took command and was killed. Another one took over and was killed (as well)," Aviran recalls. "I was near the blockade and decided that because the battalion was stopped, I was going to find a way around the blockade. I was surrounded by officers and they basically told me, 'You are the battalion commander!' It was clear to me that I could do it."

 

In the fog of battle, a wounded Aviran became, in practice, without proper professional training—the commander of the Armored brigade. He commanded over the battle, assisted in the rescue and evacuation of the wounded from the battle-torn area, and organized the unit at the end of the battle.

 

For this act he was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service.

 

Yossi Shain was caught in a deadly ambush and rescued the wounded

On the night of June 5, a Res. Lt., Yossi Shain, was deployed with the reconnaissance company of the 45th mechanized brigade to lead the battle in the Dotan Valley in northern Samaria. "On the first day of the war, the Jordanians began bombing the Ramat David air force base and the 45th Brigade was ordered to enter the Dotan Valley," said Shain, who was a team commander.

 

Fifty years after the legendary battle, we meet at the outpost of Havat Dotan overlooking the green and pastoral valley where one of the most difficult battles took place in the Six-Day War. "My team received reinforcements from the tank division, but because the streets were too narrow we had to enter the Dotan valley without the tanks," he recalls.

 

Yossi Shain
Yossi Shain

The Armored Corps patrol troops who used unarmed jeeps and vehicles had to face the attack of the Jordanian tanks without proper equipment. "We received instructions on where to move using a code map but there was a mistake in the code. It turned out that we were standing under a cliff on which there was a Jordanian ambush that opened fire."

 

Dotan Valley
Dotan Valley
 

 

At the Qabatiya junction, the reconnaissance team under the command of Lt. Yosef Shain stumbled upon an ambush of six tanks and a Jordanian infantry force within a few meters, killing two soldiers and injuring seven. "My half-track was very close to the Jordanian tank and he didn't manage to hit it," Shain said.

 

Shain quickly assembled the soldiers to return fire and treat the wounded, at great risk for their lives and under effective fire. After realizing that they had to escape the area of the Jordanian ambush, Shain jumped on the only uncompromised half-track and stood within 10 meters of enemy tanks, activated it and evacuated his men, despite being wounded in the head from a previous clash. "There was little chance for this move, but it succeeded. We all boarded that one half-track, along with the wounded," he said.

 

For this act he was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service.

 

Shmuel Dror: Destroyed three Egyptian tanks

Upon receipt of the order on the first day of the war—"Red Sheet"—Sgt. 1st Class Shmuel Dror, armored corps commander in the 82nd Battalion of the 7th Brigade, was deployed to the southern front.

 

During the battle against the Egyptian army forces in Gaza, a significant gap was created between the rapidly moving tanks that fought at the head of the force in the Rafah area, and the unprotected supply and ammunition convoy that lingered in the Khan Yunis area, many kilometers behind. "The main force broke into Khan Younis and Rafah and took over the place, but it didn't stay in place and advanced forward. I stayed behind with the supply convoy," Dror said.

 

Shmuel Dror
Shmuel Dror

In the confusion of the battle, the convoy of trucks entered a deadly ambush in close proximity to the Egyptian army. "Inside Khan Yunis, I see an Egyptian soldier with a bazooka running and lying down seven meters from my tank. I was with the Uzi in my hands and I fired the entire magazine at him," Dror said.

 

During the battle, the commander of the only Israeli tank securing and leading the supply convoy was killed. "The tank was stopped and it blocked the path of the entire convoy (preventing them) from advancing. I got out of the jeep and climbed into the tank, and I started leading the convoy behind me. My quartermaster took my place in the jeep and within a minute, he was shot in the head."

 

Six Day War
Six Day War

 

Dror decided to replace the commander of the tank. He led the convoy of trucks that were cut off under enemy fire all the way to the Israeli armored forces in Rafah. "I started running into Egyptian soldiers, between 15 and 20 people. A tank came down from one of the alleys within 50 meters of me, fired a shell and missed. I saw the commander and his crewman loader trying to flee from the tank, I fired at them and hit… Then, I proceeded to fire at another tank, which I hit from a 150 meters distance. All the while, the convoy, with soldiers who had an almost non-existent combat training, kept driving behind me. These battles were like the Wild West, duels. Whoever drew the fastest was the winner. I felt I had a great responsibility to lead the whole deal."

 

Up until he joined his company in Rafah, Dror destroyed three enemy tanks and a Bazooka crew from very short range. In the course of the fighting, he operated efficiently and made sure that the ranks and damaged tanks were repaired in time.

 

For this act he was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service.

 

(Translated and edited by N. Elias)

 

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