‘Woke today at the crack of dawn for another day of drills. My legs were already sore as we once again carry the whole shebang on our backs and head off to find our next location of training. Helmets were to be worn. They aren’t the most comfortable thing to wear when one is hiking in the desert heat. We pass curious Bedouins. I swear I don’t get how those people live in the ‘shetach’ their whole lives. Up and down the hills we trek, occasionally stopping to secure a perimeter. And then once we get there, we still gotta keep our gear on but kinda feel like I’m flying once I put that huge bag down. Today it was our unit’s turn to capture the second mountain while the other two units paved the way by providing heavy firepower.
We are running and dropping and shooting exactly as we have been trained to. We take over the ‘kita’ in front of us as they provide cover fire. We arrive at the top only to find out we are barely halfway there. Basically, there is another mountain on top of this one. Inhale and charge forward ever stronger, shooting all the time. I can even feel the vibrations in the ground caused by the Negev (machine gun) beside me. Not to mention the beautiful scenery.
We marched back along the road to base with all our gear, a good eight kilometers, stopping for occasional breaks. Passing cars would give us all a good beep. We arrive on base only to find out the next day there is a thirty kilometer hike that needs to be done. Most people were looking forways to get out of doing it. It sounded bloody insane but there was a group of us ready to push it to the limit. I unpacked my sleeping bag only to find in horror an enormous spider within it. And that’s what we were sleeping amongst, I thought, as my anxious roommates rushed to take care of it.
The next day we start drinkin’ water early, as we do before ‘masa’s, followed by a doctor’s check-up. Results were grim as more than half the ‘pluga’ were incapable of going on another hike. There were only three of us in my ‘kita’ fit to go. And then suddenly, a great cheer is heard throughout our barracks. The ‘masa’ was cancelled due to lack of able participants. Everyone was kinda happy and relieved, and so was I, I did have a couple blisters after all. It’s important that you know your limits; goin’ too far can be permanently damaging. So instead, we had the most thorough inspection ever. Everything we had in our ‘ephod’s(vests) needed to be placed neatly before ‘em. Our guns had to be perfectly cleaned and dismantled. All our bullets had to be lined up next to each magazine. Not to mention the Mag and Negevs, too. What a week.
The Lone Soldier column is a weekly diary of a new recruit to the Israel Defense Forces following his time in service and beyond. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org