Ad Matai!? Ad Achshav!

Loving It

After my final arrest mission, I did a week or so of other missions. We caught two Palestinians with an M16:

Tried to trick us with a ton of goods in the back, “just did some shopping, nothing to see here…”

Went Shopping

And here is the weapon, with a magazine:

M16

Finally word came through to my Platoon Commander that my military vacation was to begin the next day. That evening I gave out items to guys in my unit and in the morning returned all my combat gear.

At that point, I was free to go back home to Ranaana for a military vacation until my release date from the army. Most of that time I spent sleeping but all of that time I enjoyed freedom and life again.

It seems crazy but the time is up. I signed up for 18 months of active duty, and on June 10 2015 I was honorably discharged from active duty service. However, reserve duty is always there, and I intend to keep myself in shape and conditioned for operational status in the combat reserves regardless of where I am in the world when/if trouble arises.

Other than that, the next phase of my life begins. Despite the annoyances, the hardships, the pure slavery of being a soldier and especially a combat soldier, the Israel Defense Force is probably the most meaningful organization one could be a part of. Even the most boring moments like standing around at night on a hill with nothing to do other than stare into darkness, and listen to the wind or one’s own breathing, one is still acutely aware of the importance of one’s job. Next to you is a town or city, or key road people travel, and you make it safe with your presence.

Its quite a meaningful job when the lightest side of the job is still so meaningful.
And what is life without meaning? So, I hope to go on to do still more meaningful things, because after defending a country and its people, very little can compare with that level of satisfaction in one’s job.

Hopefully, I can find a way to find meaning with a law degree, because that’s my next goal.

The day I had to come back to our unit’s command base, and return everything I had left was nerve racking. Mainly because I was afraid I’d have to give back something I cherish, really Its crazy what the army expects a combat soldier to give up.

On our last day, they want us to return our Beret. The thing we go through so much training to receive, and in the end march anywhere from 60-90km to gain (the Kfir Brigade has the longest Beret marches in the infantry).

They want our boots back. The boots we did all that marching in, the boots we did all our missions in, the boots we turn ourselves from recruits to hardened soldiers, to combat veterans. The changes that the army had on me are unseen, perhaps I do not even notice them. However, my life as a soldier is quite visible through every scar and dent and evidence of wear on my boots.

They want us to return all of our uniforms.

They might as well ask us to leave them one of our testicles.

I kept both pairs of boots that I received from Bakum (where I began the army on day one), one pair that I wore my entire service, and one pair that is brand new for reserve duty. The pair for reserve duty they allowed me to keep, the other pair that I wore my entire service I simply swiped back into my bag when no one was looking.

I kept one parade uniform that the army didn’t know I had and another combat uniform that the army forgot I had. The combat uniform is the one I wore throughout my training, and it STILL smells of the hot Middle Eastern sun.

The Beret I returned was not mine, I found it in the lost and found of a central bus station in Tel Aviv.
So, everything that is important to me, I kept.

I write this after having packed all my things, and am now waiting to leave for Ben Gurion International Airport.

Thanks for following my journey, I’ll still answer any questions or respond to any comments.

I take with me not just my sentimentally valuable items, but also my own new found appreciation for FREEDOM.

And of course, an unforgettable time as a soldier of the Lavi Battalion and of the Nahshon Battalion:

Signing off,

Yalla Lavi!

The drive to start my Hofshash: admiring the country side of Judea/Samaria for the last time, until the next time, a long time from now:

4 thoughts on “Ad Matai!? Ad Achshav!

  1. Robert – Kol Hakavod on completing your service! You have done wonderful and amazing things, and one big thing by taking time from your American life to join the IDF in the first place.

    Somehow I didn’t see the last post about your last arrest, and this one until today, the day after my son Alex’s tekes kumta with Nahal.

    Even to the end, you are giving good advice for lone soldiers who follow you. I will make sure Alex knows about having an extra beret to turn in, given how hard he worked the past eight months to get the one yesterday.

    Good luck with law school.

    Best,

    Cary Fulbright

  2. Hi Robert, I read your blog and was surely enlightened on what its like to be a soldier. I think you and I are very similar in that I am also a very logical person, and I myself am considering law school. Anyway, I am 22 now, and I definitely want to join and serve. My question is: I have a couple of friends that were in the IDF, one in sayeret Golani, and the other one in the Duchifat battalion in Kfir (around the same time you were in Kfir). They both recommend that I join in Magav (border police) because you get more “action.” My friend from sayeret Golani said, “Magav you will get more action, not maybe in kills, but definitely more arrests and riot control, basically more interaction with the arab people.” My other friend, who was in Duchifat said, “Kfir does a lot of the same stuff as Magav, but Magav seems to always be in the action, even when we weren’t there. Although, we in Kfir, got to do more missions than them, from what I saw.”

    Robert, sorry for turning this into a research paper, but I just don’t want to make the wrong choice. I am 22, not 18, therefore as you can imagine I have a little more maturity and understanding of the world. The tone I am trying to get across is that while I am intrigued by Israel’s Matkal and Duvdevan like an Israeli high schooler, I am also aware of the repercussions of joining these units where PTSD is more likely to occur, and like you mentioned about physical problems, for example knee problems and back problems. My friend in sayeret Golani told me that while it is “true” (true is to be taken lightly as opinions vary) his unit is the most badass and they do all the cool stuff, he pretty much told me that a lot of his service was stuck in shmirot as you already know. I, myself, was shocked since he was in a sayeret, but nonetheless that is what he said (anecdotal…I know).

    Basically, from your experiences, what would you tell someone that is on the fence between Kfir and Magav. I know that Kfir has Oketz and Lotar. Lotar being the instructor unit for special forces, I actually have a friend from Idaho who was in the unit, passed all of the training, but three days before graduation was discharged for insufficient Hebrew knowledge (Huge oversight by the illogical IDF!). I am really interested in that unit, because you get to be a teacher, which is something I would like to do, especially Krav Maga. By the way, I only learned of the Krav Maga teacher position from you. Thank you. But I also realize that if I don’t make it to the Lotar unit, I will be in Kfir. Its a risk. On the other hand, Magav is more lightweight, as my friend said they are “city soldiers that don’t need to lift as much gear on their backs since their bases are closer to them, and since they do not leave Israel’s borders with the exception of the West Bank/sometimes Gaza. As a result, they tend to have less physical issues which is attractive to me. But they do face off with the Arab community more frequently and therefore it is dangerous on a daily basis. Furthermore, Magav has its own special operations such as Yamas (Duvdevan equivalent) and I would be able to attempt their gibbush every few months.

    In summary, I fully understand that solely serving in Israel is just that: serving Israel! You can’t fault me, well you could, but I’m sure you could understand that I do want to serve so badly, but not at the expense of my physical health for my future life. From everything stated above I hope you realize that I am talking of lifelong back/knee issues that result from all the heavy lifting, and not from the war itself. If, knock on wood, I were to take a bullet or die in action that would be unfortunate but its a risk I am clearly choosing to take on. These risks are not my concern, but rather again the physical wear and tear injuries that I could potentially avoid. So the million shekel question: Based off of your experiences and my concerns, do you recommend Kfir or Magav?

    Just as a final point: I know that even in Magav it can get heavy metaphorically and literally speaking. I definitely want combat, so please don’t recommend jobnick! After reading all of this you may recommend that to me, but everything I wrote above are just my logical concerns for a military that isn’t logical 🙂

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