After having finished the Army three years ago I have wanted so much to do reserve duty to continue to do my part for the State and fulfill my civic duty of have to protect the country I had chosen to be a part of for the last five years. However, ever since having left the army I was upset to know that people who had served with me in the same unit did not get called to serve in reserves.
My luck completely changed in February after having been a few months in Florida to take care of a college course I had decided to take and worked as a loan officer for a financial firm I was praying I would receive reserve duty to continue to do my part.
Out of the blue I got a call from a young girl saying she was the soldier responsible for all issues having to do with my personal issues having to do with doing reserve duty and to my great happiness she told me I was now in Golani and had to report for reserve duty in the next two months.
I told her that I was incredibly happy and asked her what she needed from me, in return I had to update a few of my personal information so the army would know exactly what I do for a living and verified my current address.
As soon as I hung up the phone there was one thing that came to mind which was, “ I hope I won’t be a heavy machine gunner again.”
For those readers who have never served in a combat unit every soldier gets a specialty from being a light machine gunner, grenade launcher to drone operator. Every soldier has a special role to play in his own unit depending on what the platoon he belongs to requires.
Just my luck the biggest guy in my unit ending up leaving the unit and hence all the Israeli born guys knew how to say no to the commander. So my commander decided to make me the heavy machine gunner which was a serious pain because I am a short guy with average weight.
Just my luck when I arrived at the point of meeting with the other soldiers instead of getting a nice Micro-Tavor to use during the next few days I had to get the large machine gun with even larger bullets that every time I would get up from sitting down with the gun and all the bullets in my vest I felt like I was lifting extremely heavy weights in the gym.
Our training started at night as we all lined up according to our platoons and started walking to the largest mountain in front of us. A few minutes into our march up the mountain my vest is filled with so much sweat that it feels like I was just in a water park and had gotten off a large waterslide. Every break we took I would get incredibly cold and would have to sit next to other guys to get warmer, all the guys were tired some guys a little over weight after being a civilian for too long while other guys were in such a great fitness level it was as if it was just another day at the gym for them.
Machine gun’s weight was wearing down on me so much that I was falling behind my platoon that other guys had to switch guns with me so I wouldn’t fall behind when going uphill. After several hours of walking we were told to stop because there was a guy who had gotten dehydrated and needed to be taken out immediately so we all arrived to his aid and put him on a stretcher and carried him to the nearest vehicle.
Afterwards we continued walking until we had reached the top of the mountain and even though we were no longer going up hill we kept walking; six hours later we reached our destination, stopped and laid on the ground to go to sleep. A few minutes later we would be woken up by a rabbi with a beard asking people who wanted to help with a prayer quorum, being the religious person, I am I joined in to pray and hear the Torah reading of the week.
The following few days were tough, running all the time, sleeping in nature without a tent just a sleeping bag and practicing several drills of running up a mountain shooting targets and being extremely careful not to lose control of this monster of a gun.
After having done an urban warfare training we were told to conquer a building, as soon as we started opening up corners we realized that there was a massive barbeque with all the burgers and French fries a man could hope to eat.
The best was yet to come because after having a whole barbeque planned for us we were treated to a private concert by a very famous Israeli singer which sang to us many of us drifted into a deep sleep while other starred into their cellphones.
Following the concert, we were put on a bus again to the middle of nowhere where we slept and had to take turns doing guard duty fifteen minutes each, I had the fortune of have to walk around with a twenty pound machine gun without bullets walking around base camp.
Next two days consisted of another war training except the last live fire drill we did someone ordered pizza for all of us which we enjoyed eating before our last drill but, probably was not a smart thing on my part to eat as many slices as I did since I had to run up and shoot at targets and during the whole drill I felt the Pizza in my throat.
Last day before our final drill we were sitting in camp when all the sudden I see about forty non-Israelis coming onto our camp wearing crocs and shorts approach us. They happen to be American Christians who support Israel who came to give us a word of encouragement and tell us how much they love the Jewish people.
One fellow reservist was not so happy to see them to the point he cursed them out. I profusely apologized for his behavior that the tourists were interested to know where I spoke English so well which to their surprise I told them that I was originally from Florida, they were so happy they posed for photos with us until the units sergeant told them they had to leave because we had to prepare for our last drill.
I turned to this reservists and asked him, “why did you react so negatively toward these people? They love and support us we should embrace them.”
He responded, “the only reason these people are here are to convert Jews to Christianity and no matter how nice they may seem and try to appear they want nothing more but to preach gospel to us in order for them to get to heaven.”
I said, “they have not handed out any literature that was pro-Christian to us nor did they even mention Jesus all they wanted was to show that they support us and give us letters from kids who wrote thank you letters to us from America.”
Finishing the last drill we gathered around the commander of the battalion as he gave rewards to individuals who excelled greatly this week of service and gave rewards to individual platoons for the ones who excelled the most.
Getting back on the bus the first thing I did when I go to the Jerusalem bus station was to order myself a large burger from Burgers Bar, all the sudden I saw a friend who was with me in active duty but later ended up leaving my former unit, and once I got home to Kiryat Arba I see a lot of friends on the street walking and asking how I survived reserves.
Only in Israel does the Army need you until you are forty-five years old, as tough as it maybe to all the sudden be given a large rifle than you are use to carrying and thrown into a military mode of having to run physically tough drills.
That is what being a citizen of Israel is about because no matter whether you lean towards the right or towards the left, whether you are an immigrant or a sabra, religious or not, a settler or a city dweller it is the duty of every citizen to partake the defense of the country and be ready to heed the call to the next possible conflict.