Saturday, December 19, 2009
Then on Wednesday we had a plugah wide candle lighting, on a large menorah they had built that day. We had a large spread of donuts, thanks to our moshakit tash (NCO who ensures we get our rights). So we lit the candles and our whole machlakah had the words already for the songs so our mefakdim were circling us making sure we were singing and loudly and correctly. It was a thing of pride for them that there machlakah was the best there and the loudest.
After that we just lit as a machlakah and sang together. It is nice to break the stress and rigors of the day for 5-6 minutes to sing act a little free, before having to go back to being a piece of crap in basic again. Its great to know for 5 minutes what you are doing in the army. To see the candles and know I am standing in the Israeli army, the one which has once again taken up the torch which has been passed on from king David all the way to us. To know we carry the same torch of the Maccabees's of Chanukah's is a cool thought as well.
Friday, December 11, 2009
So after a week in the army I had my chance to try out for the Golani Brigades special forces unit. There were two parts (out of three) taking this draft. The Palsar (recon) was taking one platoon, and the Orev (anti-tank) was taking 2 platoons, the Chan (explosives) was not taking at all.
It all began at 1600 Sunday afternoon. We march out of the base to the site specially built for the try outs. The site is an old shooting range stripped down to the bed rock, and covered over in sand. The moved dirt is built into big walls on three sides of the site and we are located on the top of a hill which means all ways there are up. At 1600 we are sorted into groups and are turned over to our Squad leaders for the try outs. We form up around them with our assault packs (army back packs), 2 canteens, and a shovel all in hand. The Squad leaders then hand out sand bags and tell us to fill them. When filled each one weighs 20k or 45 pounds. These are then places in our bags along with our canteens and shovels. We are now ready to begin.
We begin with our bags on our back, and sprinting, with us lining up by who finishes first. We do this for a while and then we move to a new location where we spring some more, we crawl, and then are given the task to big a hole as big as possible in 10 minutes. For most of this they are only really trying to wear everyone out, they take our numbers rarely and often just have us run again immediately after we finish a sprint. This continues on for 5 hours till at 2100 we get dinner and then are sent to bed. Everyone crawls right into bed and falls right to sleep. But at 2200 they barge into the tent screaming for us to wake up get our bags on and form up out side. Once outside we take out a canteen and chug it all down in a minute, with the empty canteen upside down over our heads to prove we drank it all. We then head out for a masa (ruck march) with is for this is also our stretcher folded up, and our jerry can filled with water. The squad leader heads off at a near run and we have to keep up or we will double back and have to recover the ground again. This goes on for about an hour till we get back to camp and are put back to sleep.
Monday morning starts of with an early wake up, prayers, and then luck us another masa. Here they start even faster and the pace was really grueling. We hit the turn point and start back up the hill, and keeping up became a real challenge for our group but we finally get to the top and we all are thanking god it is over. Then we form up and the squad leader tells us we did a piss poor job we have to do it all again. Right there and then we have one guy quit. So we did it again and as we finished this time the hill back up was littered with people who had quit. This hill literally broke almost 20 people in 5 minutes. As we came up to the end point we actually had to drag the guy carrying the jerry can to the finish because he could not do it him self. The rest of the day followed a similar path with us running, crawling, or competing to get under the stretcher loaded with sand bags. This all went on till about 1700 when we stopped for a quiz on navigation and then back to getting raped physically. This went on till about 2000 when we got dinner and got to go to sleep.
Tuesday morning at 0430 we were up again, and following prayers and breakfast we were back to our physical annihilation. By now I had crawled off my left elbow and the wound was full of dirt and sand mixed with dried blood, I had fallen on the Monday morning masa and was feeling twinges in the knee from time to time, and my legs were so tired I could not stand up on my own. But on we went till about 1100 when we moved on to group challenges. This went on for a blessed 2 hours till we got lunch, and then after lunch it was back to running. Then at 1400 we were formed up and given a map and missions, each in a brown envelope. We had the stretcher and jerry can with us as well. We headed off and got to point one on time, there we opened mission 2 and it said to load the stretcher with our bags so we placed 5 (100k or 220 lb) and it also said none of our gear can touch the ground. For the next hour we run from point to point to make the times, and as we get to the last point we then have to return to the try out site which is up a huge hill so we just go all out screaming and pushing, trampling thorns, we get to the top and there we are told the physical part is over. I cant remember being so happy in a long time. The next day was just question airs and an interview and then Thursday we had a large formation and there we all learned where we were going, and who passed the try outs. They called the people heading to the regular infantry units first, and then they called the SF guys. So as the room emptied more and more I got more and more excited knowing I had a greater and greater chance of getting the SF unit. Finally they finish calling the regular infantry units and I k now I made SF. Now its just a question of where. In the end I made Orev (the anti-tank) unit and am really happy.
I am sorry this post is so long, but in truth I barely even scratched the surface of what happened. Its hard to explain an experience like this to those who have not even gone through this. It is really a once in a life time experience.