In addition to the orange and black bracelets on my right wrist, I wear seven black bracelets. Here are some of the stories for each one of the bracelets.
Uzi, Dudu, Avinoam an Danny lived on the same Kibbutz in the south of Israel where I lived for some twenty years.
Uzi and I first met in the large outdoor swimming pool of the Kibbutz. I guess that he had heard from some of the younger folks that I was a good swimmer. Prior to returning to Israel I had years of competitive swimming behind me. And so, Uzi being Uzi, he decided to ambush me in the pool while I was swimming laps, and hold me under the water. Unfortunately for him though, as he was holding me under the water, he ran out of breath before I did. I continued to sit on the bottom of the pool, biding my time. After another two or three minutes I surfaced, only to see a very anxious Uzi pacing back and forth with worry. Realizing that his prank had backfired we both laughed, and we became friends.
Uzi was killed in action October 17, 1973 during the fighting near the Suez Canal. He was twenty eight years old.
Dudu (his real name was Mordechai) made an impression on me because he loved to dance and enjoy himself while doing so. Totally uninhibited, he would often join the “younger set” of the Kibbutz, dancing with someone or alone, but dancing nevertheless.
Dudu was killed in action October 22, 1973 during the fighting in the Golan Heights. He was thirty two years old.
Avinoam was one of four sons born to Chana and Avraham, and he and his twin brother were the youngest. I remember the kind of square dancing or line dancing the young soldiers on leave did on Friday nights, and I also remember that Avinoam was very casual about the whole dance thing, wearing his bedroom slippers…just because he could. All four of Chana and Avraham’s sons were in combat units.
Avinoam was killed in action October 20, 1973 during the fighting near the Suez Canal. He was barely twenty one years old.
Danny came to the Kibbutz from South America, and attended the Kibbutz High School as a part of a special youth group that studied and lived on the Kibbutz.
Danny was killed in action October 29, 1973 during the fighting near the Suez Canal. He was only nineteen years old.
I myself served my mandatory military service with the Golani Brigade, and during my basic training I became friends with Nachshon and Moshe. Nachshon grew up on Kibbutz Ga’aton and Moshe in Holon. While I myself went on to join the 13th Battalion of Golani, Nachshon and Moshe went on to squad leader and commander school.
Both were killed in action, Moshe when Golani Brigade fought to recapture the Hermon on October 8, 1973; Nachshon in fighting in Syria on October 22, 1973.
And now, last but most certainly not least, Amir. Amir was our platoon medic, and a member of my squad when I joined the 13th Battalion of the Golani Brigade. Amir had a great sense of humor, and he knew how to care for all of his platoon brothers. He would have made a great doctor, I’m sure. Amir was all about the professionalism demanded of the platoon medic, but he was kind and generous to all of his squad brothers-in-arms. Born in Tel Aviv, Amir was the son of Holocaust Survivors.
We were on Tel Shams, and our platoon occupied that fortification, sleeping a few hours at a time in evacuated Syrian bunkers deep in the hill. So cramped were the bunkers that we had to sleep head to foot with our brothers-in-arms. We really did not sleep all that much either. The Syrian artillery constantly bombarded Tel Shams, and an hour of sleep was rewarded with six or seven hours of manning a post, making sure the Syrians would never recapture the fortification.
It was on October 22, 1973 that an artillery shell fragment found Amir. Despite the fact that he constantly wore his helmet, Amir was killed instantly. He was twenty one years old.
Seven bracelets, seven black bracelets that I wear every day, to remind me. To carry with me. To grieve silently.
To live a life worthy of their memory. May their memory be a blessing.