Living the squadron’s life

Being in operational squadron is not easy. Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.

My first job at the squadron was as the officer of adjutant. I was responsible of the squadron’s staff, administration and daily operation. That job was ok…. Yes, just ok… I did that job for a year and a half. But the “highlight” of my time in the squadron was as the training officer. I was responsible and supervising the pilots’ operational flights, schedule and training.

As an operational squadron we took part in a lot of military operations. I use to sit hours planning the squadron schedule, making sure all the pilots getting the right training, enough sleep and doing their every day jobs.

After a few months in the job it happened… The 2006 Lebanon War started. The war started in July 2006 and ended a month later. It was a CRAZY time. I was literally working 24 hours a day for 34 days. Talking about sleepless nights… We had teams on hold all day that were launched all the time (and then I had to find a new teams to be on standby…).

In the IAF we count a lot on our reservists. They have a big part in the daily missions (a squadron can’t really work all year long relaying only on her soldiers. It’s just impossible). But when its time its time, they always gonna be there to help.

That’s what makes Israel so special. The minute the war started I got phone calls from people who wanted to come and take part in the mission. THEY called me! I didn’t have to beg for people to come and train or take the night missions, they just volunteered. The atmosphere was incredible (hard as it can be). The squadron was full with people 24/7.

But then one day the worse thing we could think of happened… It was just another day, the Squadron Leader called me to his office and told me that one of the pilots’ brother (one of my friend’s brother) was killed in action. The crazier part was that one of our teams that were in the air saw the whole thing. I was shocked. He asked me to stay while he was telling my friend what happened and asked me to escort him back home to his family. Eventually my friend told me he’s fine and asked me not to come (couldn’t fight him about that…..). The whole squadron went to the funeral. Such a sad day. But I can’t even describe the love he got from everyone and that just filled my heart.

The war was over. Things started to go back to normal….

 Image   2006 Lebanon War Ribbon.

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Fulfilling my dream and becoming an officer

The basic officers training last two and a half months. It was a great experience. A hard experience but a great one. We had a week that called “Shvoa Shetach” which basically means we stayed in the field for a week, slept in tents, had a shooting training (even threw a grenade) etc. Not an easy week….. Barely showered, sleepless nights but did not complained.

But I did it….. After two and a half months, I finally got the MM pin that symbolize the end of the course (the first part…).

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After a short vacation I started the second part of the training, which trains you to your specific job. I was assign to be an officer of adjutancy (Shalish). I have to admit, compare to the first part of the course, the second part was a piece of cake. I actually had fun being there, made some great new friends (I’m still in touch with some of them). After another two and a half months I finally finished my training. In a big ceremony we all got our ranks and finished as a segen mishne (sagam) which equivalent to a second lieutenant.

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My first assignment was as an officer of adjutancy (Shalish) in the first Israelisquadron (Tayeset “Ha’Gamal Ha’Meofeef” – The Flying Camel Squadron).

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When I got there and learned the importance of the squadron I was amazed. Check out this links about my squadron – Unbelievable!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3C-LTCztBo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExePiqr24LM – unfortunately this one is in Hebrew, but the video itself is amazing.

What started at first as one year assignment turned in to three amazing years and unbelievable experiences. In my next, and last blog about my experience in the Israeli air force, I will write you all about it….

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And the journey continues….

So…. After a few weeks of training (learning the military values, the importance of us being there, not that we didn’t know that… How to shot an m-16 and other basics things) we were assigned to our new basis.

And there I was, a new soldier in a new base, finally starting my REAL “job” in the Israeli military.

I have to be honest about something. Ever since I was draft I always wanted to be an officer. My older sister was an officer too and I always looked up at her.

The first few weeks were hard. Learning the job I have to do, spending hours, night and day, in the operations room wasn’t easy. But it was worth it. I got to meet amazing people who become good friends (commanding officers as well).

My day had finally come. After four months in the job my commanding officer (who I admired the most) called me in his office and told me I was summon to the officer course. At that point I knew for the first time how much he appreciates me, he asked me to stay. I got to say, that was a hard decision. Stay at a place you love, or leave and start over 5 months of intense training in a new place with new people. I decided my dream of being an officer is bigger than my love for the place. I decided to leave…

At first we had a camp to eliminate those of us who weren’t fit for the course. It was a three days camp, in the desert, in the middle of winter. I don’t think I ever felt that kind of  cold as I felt in these three days. We slept with our close on (every piece of cloths we had!) one night we even slept in pairs in out sleeping bags.  It was crazy. But you know what they say – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

A few weeks after the camp my commanding officer called me again to his office and told me I passed the camp. I was so excited. But I could see on his face he didn’t want me to leave. He asked me again a few days later to stay….. I couldn’t….. I had to peruse my dream.

And there I was, again, in a new base with new people…..

 

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Memorial Day – Miles away from home

On my way home from class today my classmate and I started talking about Israel’s holidays.

Yesterday was Shavuot (Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai) so as we were talking about that I just remembered that he was celebrating memorial day not so long ago.

Then it hit me. This year was the first time, ever in my life, that I wasn’t HOME with my family and friends on Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron). For me, and the people in Israel, Memorial Day is a very sad day. It’s a day of remembrance for the fallen soldiers of Israel and victims of terrorism.

The day opens with a siren the preceding evening at 8:00pm. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything (including driving, which stops highways) and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect. Many religious Jews say prayers for the souls of the fallen soldiers at this time.The official ceremony to mark the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall,and the flag of Israel is lowered to half-staff. A two-minute siren is sounded at 11:00 the following morning, which marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at each cemetery where soldiers are buried.

The day officially draws to a close between 7–8 p.m. with the official ceremony of Israel Independence Day at the national military cemetery on Mount Herzl, when the flag of Israel is returned to full staff.

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As I was saying, Memorial Day is a very sad day for us. For someone who served for more than 4 years in the army, took parts in a war and a lot of other military operation, it is even harder and unfortunately I even know someone who died in the last war in 2006.

With that being said, being in a different country on their Memorial Day was quit an experience. I knew that the Americans celebrate Memorial Day differently, just didn’t know it was SO different. Barbecues and sales…. That was a shock.

I have always been fascinated with different cultures and I was amazed learning and experiencing a subject so close to my heart in a different country.

Being away from home in days like that is hard. The time difference and the miles making things even harder. I guess all I can say now is that I miss home in times like that even more.

writing these words with tears in my eyes….Remembering the fallen from miles away….

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My first day in the army

So there I was, 18 year old girl who just finished high school, enlisting the army…

It was Thursday September 11th 2003, a date that’s hard to forget.

My family and I arrived the absorption base (Bakum) early in the morning and waited to be called. After a long stressful hour I finally hear my name and see it with my ID number on a digital board with all the other names. That is when the true draft begins.

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I got to admit, not knowing anyone is not making this process any easier. There are some lucky guys that get to draft on the same day to the same place with people they know. Unfortunately I wasn’t one of them.

After a short bus ride we got to our first stop: storing all of our personal bags.

Then, maybe to make the process a little easier, we met some civilian volunteers that gave us some snacks and drinks.

The long process continues….. 

There’s a movie we watched explaining about the chain of events that about to happened, taking our picture for our army ID (Choger), fingerprints, authentication of data (bank account verification in order to transfer our military salary), blood sample, vaccines (that was painful!!!!!) and dog tags (Diskiyot) with our military ID.

Then we got to the part we all been waiting for (and scared the most), the interview with the officers in charge of assigning job placements (Ketzinei Miyun). For us, the girls who went to the non-combat units, not knowing where we going to serve (if it’s going to be close to home or far) was a big and scary issue.

I found out I’m going to be an Operations Sergeant which means I was responsible for “chamal” (war room) and managed the field movement, or in my case due to the fact I was draft to the air force air defense, I was responsible for all the movement of these units in the area.

Well we finally got to the last stop of the day:Receive Military Equipment. I got to say, that part was FUNNY!  You have no idea how bad these uniform looks. The uniform were so big and the pants where so high, seriously funny. That part actually helped us girls getting to know each other a little more.

We spend the next 6 hours sitting outside waiting for someone to tell us when and where we going. We were around 12 girls if I’m not mistaking, and so we just set there talking, getting to know each other, changing phone numbers and wondering if we will get to spend the weekend home or not.

It finally happened! Around 5pm one of our new officers came and told us that we are going home and that on Sunday morning we need be at the central bus station in   Beer – Sheba (a city in the south of Israel).

I have to say, this day couldn’t be over in a better way.

Sunday morning arrived…. Me and some of the girls met at the train station in Tel Aviv and our journey began….

 

 

 

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Growing up in Israel

While i was thinking about my next post I came across with this article one of my friends posted on Facebook: “51 Facts About Israel That Will Surprise You” (http://www.buzzfeed.com/rethinkisrael/facts-about-israel-that-will-surprise-you#2942532)
It is always funny how you come across things like that when you less expect them.
I decided to write this post about growing up in Israel and a little about the army. Alot of people are curious about the the army, how it was like…. did I get to shoot anyone etc. So I will share with you guys as much as I can.
well, like i wrote on my first post, growing up in Israel wasn’t easy. there were a few years that every time right before my birthday (a day or two) there was a bombing in Tel Aviv (the city I grow up in) so I couldn’t really celebrate my birthday. people were just afraid going out of their houses (not to mention going to public, crowded, place to celebrate). Other than that my childhood was just like any other child around the world. But unlike teenagers around the world, after finishing high school the next step is joining the army, not going to college….
While we were growing up our parents always told us that by the time we will come of age we won’t have to go to the army because there won’t be an army anymore. No more wars or bombing and we will live in peace with our neighbors. Well, guess what…. They were wrong.
I don’t know if you know it, but after the founding of the State of Israel, the Defense Service Law gave the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) the authority to enlist any citizen. Draftees would then be required to show up for the draft in accordance with the military’s decision to enlist them. Under this law, the period of service for men is 36 months and for women 24 months.
It’s been awhile since I first got my call for the army so I picked up this information from Wikipedia so I wont make any mistakes (I don’t think alot have changed in the past 13 years, but to be on the safe side….).
The military draft process occurs in the following steps: The Army calls upon a potential soldier in a letter and this is called the “First Calling” or Tzav Rishon. This letter states that the teenager must report to a certain place at a certain time for a long day (one of the longest days in my life) of examination, medical checks and interviewing. After careful looking over the Tzav Rishon’s results the potential soldier (mainly girls) will get a preference questionnaire. Then when you turn 18 (more or less) you will enlist and begin the army process and basic training.

So there I was, 18 year old girl who just finished high school, enlisting the army…..

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Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to a different country is never easy. Especially when you are facing new language, new culture, new everything (well, almost). For me it is extra hard.  Leaving Israel is like leaving a big family and in this blog, among other things, I will try to explain why.  

You are probably asking yourself “so why did you do it?!”. The answer is simple. I’m going back. This is a temporary situation… I moved to Virginia to get my masters in business administration and then I’m going back HOME.  

Israel is  the land of milk and honey and… an abundance of preconceived notions, stereotypes, expectations. Some good, others bad and many beautiful.

But… living in Israel is not what you think! 

This blog is giving me the opportunity to show people another side of Israel. For some reason people always think  Israel is all about desert and camels,bombing and wars. well, its definitely NOT. It has a beautiful history, interesting culture,  amazing places and amazing night life. 

 Its true, growing up in Israel was not easy. Everything has its good and bad sides. so does Israel. Serving the army was hard but it was four amazing years for me (i will expand more about my time and experiences  on the army later on). Living in fear that the bus you are going on might explode or that in every second a war can begin. But then you open your eyes and see the Dead sea, Masada or Jerusalem’s old city and realize that living in Israel is definitely worth it!

Masada     Jerusalem's old city      The Dead sea

 I guess you can say these things about a lot of places in the worldincluding the bombing and war parts,  but for me there is no place like Israel and I will do my best to show you why.

 

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Israel at a Glance

Coming soon…..

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