More than seven decades after his death in a military training accident, Israel's first fallen paratrooper was laid to rest in the Mount Herzl National Cemetery in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Private David Davidovic was born in 1927 in Czechoslovakia. During World War II, he and three of his six siblings survived the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.
After the war, he joined a Czech brigade that provided young Jewish men with military training before immigrating to Israel to fight in the War of Independence.
According to testimonies from the fallen fighter's brothers in arms, Davidovic was killed heading an attacking force during an exercise simulating an attack on a sentry.
A Czech officer on whom the paratrooper practiced shot him in the head. The officer claimed that he did not know his weapon was loaded, and as a result, was temporarily suspended and the exercise was canceled.
Davidovic was buried the day after the tragic incident in the Jewish cemetery in Prague at the age of 21. He is survived by two brothers and a sister who now reside in the United States.
The Israeli military recognized him as a fallen IDF soldier in 2001 after locating documents with his name in the IDF archives although he never officially enlisted in the army. His name was also added to the Paratroopers Memorial near the Tel Nof Air Force base in central Israel.
Seventy-three years after his untimely death, a special Defense Ministry and IDF delegation took off for Prague on Wednesday to bring Davidovic's remains to be buried in the Holy Land. Dozens of current and former paratroopers, alongside other Israeli dignitaries, took part in the ceremony after which they carried the fallen fighter's coffin into an airplane that would take them to Israel.
Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster called Davidovic a "role model for the endless giving of Jews around the world for the security of the State of Israel."
Head of the IDF Manpower Directorate Maj.-Gen. Yaniv Assor also eulogized Davidovic.
"Like Moses on top of Mount Nebo, who did not get to enter the Promised Land, so did Private Martin Davidovic, may his memory be a blessing, did not get to step on the land he dreamed of and for which he was willing to fight and sacrifice his life," he said at the ceremony.
"Martin, your generation dreamed of the country and fought for its rebirth, we live in a generation for which the dream has become a reality. Today, the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces are fulfilling a moral debt to Martin and his family, and may his burial in the Land of Israel give them some solace."