Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Swapping War Stories

(Knowing that I wasn't even going to have a post this week, I typed this up on my phone and am posting it here. I hope it's satisfactory enough. The event itself was extremely impacting.)

Today a former company commander in my battalion came to tell us about the Second Lebanon War. My company commander was a platoon commander of his at the time. He's currently studying in university, and then he's going to return to a prestigious assignment in the army. Officers often do this.

He started talking and was telling a story of his company going to capture a village in south Lebanon. I looked at my comp. commander, who was sitting on the ground with the rest of us. His face was illuminated with no small amount of respect and reverance. Here was his old commander that led him into battle, a very dimunitive guy, and my beefy comp. commander looked mesmerized! It was hard to believe, at least until I heard the story of the battle.

I guess I can't really write any of this, for one because I'm no war journalist, and secondly because you really can only hear it from the guy who lived it.

In short, it was a story of relentless gunfire and confusion. Being pinned down and using countless smoke grenades to move just meters. Numerous RPG attacks from Hizbullah, and combat helicopter strikes on our part. Observations on the unbelievable speed of passing time in combat. And even Fear and the loss of a friend. This last topic was terrible, and he told the story indepth with misty eyes. Can you imagine?

The craziest thing he said? While approaching a house, in crouching position, he heard an airy wsssh over his head and to his right. An RPG went right over his head, and another almost hit the guy's leg next to him. He turned around and watched them explode. Minutes later, an RPG struck in between him and a commander as they were snaking along a house. It hit one meter from him. One meter. No injuries.

I sat there and couldn't help but absorb his knowing words:

"Guys, war is not what you see in movies. It's not like some Bruce Willis killing half the world."

He ended on a positive note, praising our comp. commander, praising what he heard of our hard work, and so on. He straight out talked for a couple minutes about how there aren't any better people than us in the land, because people aren't ready to give of themselves like Golanchikim. We live in a "me society," he claims. Golanchikim are still willing and desirous of the highest service.

I tried not to buy into the propaganda, but when you're faced with the reality of what he described, that reality being the same combat I could find myself in someday, you need some blind feeling of strength. You have to believe in yourself, even if it's of the corny, hyped-up variety.

What'd I take from this speech? War is scary, there is no glory in it, but if it's a necessary one, faith in your comrades, yourself, and your mission can sustain you.


sobersubmrnr said...

Excellent. He was instilling in your unit a feeling of esprit de corps. All successful military/naval organizations have it. Including Golani.

Rafael said...

Man, you should really tell all of it when you get more time. Really would like to know what it's like. Even if it's second handed, I don't mind.

Anonymous said...

you're scaring your mother

Anonymous said...

Question: how many shekels do you get per month for being a combat soldier, chayal boded, etc. (but not including any money you get from the ministry of absorption)?

Israeli by Day said...

Answer: At first it's like 700, then it goes up. Right now I'm getting 1000 I think. It'll go up again when I finish my maslul (1 year). It keeps going up as far as I know.

It's exactly double what the non-chayalim bodedim get, from what I'm told.

Also, that's not including rent assistance, and other monies from government offices. Its not bad.

Israeli by Day said...

rafael - that hour speech was the epitome of me wanting to be a fly on the wall with a notebook and pen, and not a soldier needing to listen without taking notes.

Naor said...

Very inspiring story. The price of a soldier is high, however, it is the soldier that keeps the state of Israel alive. Kol Hacavod to you guys out there! Good luck over there and be safe!