The Lone Soldier Week 15 – Raw and Rugged from Israel’s Front Lines.
Its’ only been the first six kilometers of the hike, and I’m already soaked with sweat. But, then it gets cold and the sweat congeals on you.
After an hour of marching amidst the desert plains, we stop for a five minute break in which we can drink, relieve ourselves, stretch ya’ legs a bit and swap the stretcher for the big water-bag. By now it’s dark and gettin’ cold; we move fast to stay warm. You can’t feel your feet unless you’re wearing two pairs of socks. We’re crossing fields of pitch blackness. There’s no moon.
After what seems like forever, we see our base in the distance, so we stop to take out the stretchers and load ’em with sandbags. That’s when the cramps kicked in, in my upper and lower leg, ah! the pain. Had to stretch it out and run to catch up with everyone else and that’s when someone fell and twisted his ankle so we had to put him on the stretcher. We get there eventually. I’m drenched and my shoulders are on fire, I can barely carry my gun. I feel so weak and helpless, it’s insane. I limp across the courtyard for some supper. Everything is a hazy. A while later after a most rewarding shower, I find myself in bed. It feels too good to be… Someone’s shouting at me to get up.
Its’ barely 3 hours later and I already told myself I probably won’t be able to function without at least eight hours of sleep. I now had a two hour shift of guarding. I couldn’t believe they’d do this to us on a night we just got back from a ‘masa’ (march), but then I remembered my friend freezing his arse off in the guard tower, waiting for his change. It took me a while but I was soon staggering across the base to the tower. It was freezing.
We did this kind of guarding for the next day; two hours on, four hours off. It’s late Thursday afternoon. I’m in the guard tower. Two hours pass and then three. I’ve just about had enough and I’m lookin’ forward to a nice relaxing weekend off base where I’ll be able to recuperate somewhat. Four hours go by and my change comes, after which I find out it’s my kita’s turn to stay on base for Shabbat. This was harder to swallow than having to get up in the middle of the previous night.
Then, I remind myself to hang on. This is hard, this is challenging, you like that don’tcha?
And you know what? Shabbat on base was not that bad.
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