The Lone Soldier Week 5 – Raw and rugged from Israel’s front lines.
Back to base after my holiday break and with a “BANG, GET UP” waking up at four AM for our next little six kilometer ‘masa.’ Afterwhich I was sweating ridiculously and a fever started kicking in. I reckoned I’ll just suck it up and see what happens. But, later that morning after working out during a ‘shlashot’ in the blazing heat, I thought I’d faint just moments before it was over, and had to pull out. Everyone was saying my face was like snow, so I got the day off.
‘Was a bummer ’cause that was the day we learned about atomic, biological and chemical warfare. ‘Was also the day they showed us how to use the gas masks, and how to wear the protective clothing followed by a test-session in a tent with a gas grenade! It’s a shame I can’t exactly describe that scene being that I missed it, but I was told it was seriously mad.
The next day was hard. Although I was ill, I had no choice but to participate in all the lessons since it was first aid, and every soldier has got to know that stuff! Sitting a whole day learning ’til late at night ain’t the easiest thing to do when one is ill but ya suck it up. Next morning we were tested on our knowledge. ‘Wasn’t much of a test though, was more like a recap. In the afternoon we had a rundown about grenades, and of course, how to use ’em.
Next day, each guy in our battalion got his own little grenade to throw. We first practiced with a toy one, promptly followed by the real live one. We had to wear a bullet-proof vest under our ‘ephod’ (regular vest) plus some funky goggles, and threw ’em from a bunker at the top of a hill. Was cool, I admit.
After the grenade action, I more or less forgot I was ill, so got right back into routine and caught up on the lessons I missed.
Seems I recovered just in time. We were suddenly commanded to grab all our gear together. They told us we’d be heading out for a week to do some guarding at the base next door. Instead we found ourselves back at the bunkers to guard some ammo depots. We had to live in an absolute dung-hole, while we guarded around the clock. Two hours on, four off, two on, six off. It’s draining.
The worst is, in the morning ya can’t sleep ’cause there are flies all over you, those persistent buggers. You are literally slapping yourself in your sleep. But again, we prevail somehow by covering our faces and leaving a tiny breathing hole, and then suddenly we all gotta move again!
We are commanded to leave back to the base we were initially supposed to guard.
Again, we make do with the two small rooms we had between the thirty of us on the corner of the base near the front gate.
More guarding around the clock.
I leave you, the exhausted
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: [email protected]