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The bloodstained jacket: Yom Kippur, 1973

It was the sirens that pierced the silence. We gathered in the dining room and learned that Israel had been attacked
In Syria with my Brothers-in-Arms  Golani 13th Battalion B Platoon
My Golani Brothers-in-Arms, 13th Battalion, Plugah Bet, Syria 1973

Throughout the night the bright flashes of light pierced the darkness. My hands, shaking so badly the previous afternoon, the afternoon of the sixth day of October, had somehow calmed themselves. We gathered there, those of us who were called late, who were not called at all, who knew to find their brothers-in-arms, just below the ascent to the now ever more exploding hell.

A captured but emptied Soviet-era troop carrier was brought to our group, but our commander declined. He preferred the World War II vintage half-track that would carry us to outpost 104.

I opened the door to the BTR. Blood stained the interior walls, and there it was, a green jacket, soaked in places with blood, whose blood I did not know, nor did I care.

I was cold. Fear. The night. Anticipation. Adrenaline. Lack of food. I needed warmth. As I put the jacket on, I said to myself that this jacket had seen enough blood and that it would not allow any further harm to come to whoever would wear it. A stupid thought, superstitious. I wore it anyways.

We found our half-track. We piled in and headed up into hell. Syrian shells exploded all around us. We huddled closer to each other, shoulders bent forward, helmets on, tightly, clutching our weapons, trusting our driver to deliver us to outpost 104.

A few days earlier I had been here, saying my goodbyes to my brothers. My mandatory service was coming to an end, and my reward was to help construct the Golani Brigade gathering in Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv. Late Thursday afternoon we, no longer front-line warriors, but now builders of tents and whitewashers of stones along paths newly created, were sent home. Friday was the day prior to Yom Kippur. Friday was October fifth, 1973. Friday was a Friday like any other at my Kibbutz.

I didn’t realize that some were already summoned back to their units on that Friday. I was, after all, no longer a part of that organic front-line brotherhood. I was about to be released from service.

All fell silent that night. There were no radio broadcasts, and certainly, no one had a personal television set to speak of. There were no telephones in any of the homes, and there was no one to answer any potential phone calls that may have come into the central office.

It was the sirens that pierced the silence. Simultaneously screaming their urgency along with a more deliberate, calmer BBC radio announcer at 2 p.m., 14:00 hours October 6, 1973.

We all gathered in the dining room. Someone spoke and said that we had been attacked by both Syria and Egypt and that those who had not yet been summoned back to their units should do so now.

I had already signed out all of my combat gear. I had given back my weapon, my ammunition, my helmet, and my ammunition belts. There had been no need for any of that to put up tents and whitewash stones along paths in Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv.

I ran back to my shack, and put together a knapsack of personal essentials. I put on my work uniform, freshly laundered, tightened my bootlaces and ran for the highway just outside the main gate of the Kibbutz.

Within minutes, a ride took me north, then another ride, and again another, until I arrived at my battalion’s base. A quartermaster piled equipment into a huge duffel bag, handed my weapon to me and loaded me up with ammunition. He tossed me my helmet and the fiberglass liner. Hurry up, they’re in Rosh Pina. Hurry. Never mind all that signature stuff, just get going, hurry.

A few rides later I found them. Early evening, as it got cooler and darker, fear of the unknown settled in, as we all watched hell exploding in the heights above us.

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion (including Yom Kippur War) with reserve duty as a tank commander and later a liaison officer in the IDF Liaison Unit. He now resides both in the US and Israel, Maryland and Zichron Yaakov respectively.
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