Soldier Wounded in Six Day War During Battle for Liberation of Jerusalem Recounts Rescue by Heroic Medic Whose Sacrifice Inspired Famous Israeli Ballad (VIDEO)
A member of IDF Division 55, which liberated Jerusalem in the Six Day War, told the Hebrew news site nrg about the heroism of a medic who saved his life and was killed in the process.
Yosef Haguel — whose story was the inspiration for a well-known Israeli song,“A Ballad for the Medic,” written by Dan Almagor – recounted the rescue and subsequent unfolding of events in his personal life, a full 49 years since the 1967 war.
“We arrived at night, and saw Jerusalem being shelled, with planes in the sky,” Haguel began. “The city was dark, but the lights from the airplane flares made it look like Independence Day.”
When we began to move forward, the Jordanians discovered our point of entry and began shelling the whole area. In the meantime, we walked close together through the narrow streets, and at some point I was hit. One of the members of my platoon evacuated me to the back, about 100-150 meters in the direction of the bomb shelter, where a number of medics from all kinds of companies were getting organized. One of those medics was Shlomo Epstein, who happened to be a medic in my platoon, but I didn’t know him personally, because it was the first time I was there.
He tried to calm me by telling me that everything would be ok while treating [my wounds]. Suddenly, we hear shouts from the guys, “They’re bombing us, they’re bombing us!” The bombs began getting closer to where we were – where the wounded were being treated. It was an exposed area, and [our guys] yelled, “Take cover, take cover!” And whoever was able to get up and walk got out of there fast. I was wounded in the legs, so I couldn’t get up. That’s when Shlomo Epstein grabbed me and said, “Come on, let’s be together,” and he dragged me to the concrete wall of the shelter. I said to him, “Go, get out of here. It would be a shame for both of us to get hurt.” But he dragged me over there and lay down on me from the back, putting my face near the wall. A few seconds later, a shell fell a meter and a half away from us…
We flew into the air, and after that, I remember, it was silent. That’s what I remember. And then I hear, “Take him; he’s not in good shape,” [because] I was bleeding profusely…
When they came to get me, I said, “There’s someone else here.” They said, “There is nobody else here; just you.” I said, “I know there’s someone else – the medic who treated me.” …
Two days later, when they came to visit me in the hospital, they told me he had been killed.
That was Shlomo Epstein who, for his bravery, received a posthumous medal. And every Memorial Day after that, I visited his grave. For four years, I went there alone and nobody else came.
In the meantime, I got married, and as fate would have it, my wife gave birth two days before Memorial Day [and was released on the day itself]. So, I picked up my wife from the maternity ward, and I brought her and our son home. I bought two bouquets – one for my wife and one to bring to the gravesite. After dropping her off at home, I drove straight to Mt. Herzl [the site of Israel’s official military cemetery].
I go into the cemetery and when I get to the grave, I see two women standing there with a 15-year-old boy. I approach quietly, wondering who they could be…And they’re telling the boy the story – and I listen, without interrupting – about how Shlomo saved the life of a soldier… I then say to them, “Excuse me, who are you?” And they say, “We’re Shlomo’s cousins.” I say, “I am Yosef, the wounded soldier [you were talking about] whose life Shlomo saved, and I just came from the hospital, where my wife gave birth to a boy, and I want to name him Shlomo. I would also very much like for Shomo’s father to be the baby’s godfather.
It was a very sad, but also happy, encounter. And it was a very, very interesting brit [circumcision].
In time, Israelis would hear the song, “A Ballad for the Medic,” and for a long period, I didn’t reveal that the song was about me, because I had no right to say it was — until six years ago, when I had a conversation with Dan Almagor, initiated by [TV host] Tal Berman during his show, and Dan Almagor said, “The song is about your story.”
Watch the interview below: