Posted: October 2, 2011 in Advanced Training, Tzanchanim

In the past month I’ve been to jump school and finished our final week long training session out in the field aptly named  Shavua Milchamah or “War Week”. Let’s just say it’s been a looooong month!

Jump school is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, not that I’ve actually experienced ANYTHING I’ve done in the past year before, but this is different. ::Prepare yourself for a run-on sentence:: – The first week in jump school you never touch foot inside a plane, it’s all about jumping off small platforms practicing how to roll, then bigger platforms (15-20 feet or so) with harnesses to get a feel for jumping from a height , lots of zipping down zip lines to learn how to drop your cargo pack and open your reserve chute if you need it and other things you may want to know before jumping out of a perfectly good plane.

Now that I’ve summed up the first week in an awesomely long run-on sentence, onto a technologically advanced photo slideshow of Week 2 of Jump School:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the end I got to do four jumps, two during the day and two at night. Some people only got to do three jumps due to some problems with the Air Force (lazy bastards). Basically we’re supposed to do five jumps to earn our jump wings – so yes you understood that correctly – we have not earned our jump wings! I will need to do another jump in a week or so to earn my shiny jump wings… and yes if you were wondering, we are all very annoyed that we are the only battalion walking around without jump wings for the past two weeks.

The first jump is a jump without anything but our parachute, the rest are with a bag that’s attached to our parachute harnesses. The bag has rapped up securely inside our combat vest and gun. As you can see in the photo in the slideshow, this bag eventually hangs from us on a cord. It starts off attached directly to us and mid air we have to “drop” the bag down there. It’s a pretty simple process but hard to explain without physically showing it.

All I can say about the week is that I will never EVER, EVER, forget the first jump we did. Everyone’s nerves on the flight up, everyone starting to chill out and starting to get excited about jumping and then finally the jump out into the open abyss. The first three to five seconds or so outside of the plane are absolute mayhem; confused and disoriented, being thrown this way and that by a combination of the wind, the plane’s jet stream, and the parachute opening, eventually emerging into the open air bedazzled by the fact that you are over a thousand feet in the air being kept alive by 30 strings and bit of nylon over your head.

The three best moments of all the jumps are as follows:

  1. When the plane takes off and we do an odd ritual chanting of “A- UP, A – UP, A- UP, A- UP” until the plane takes off (no one has any idea the history of it, nor could I find anything online… my guess is as good as yours, I’m guessing it stands for “Airborne Up” and is from when the US taught Israel how to jump).
  2. The moment I described earlier about the first 3-5 seconds of the jump.
  3. landing back on the ground, alive and with all your body parts where they’re supposed to be.

I’d like to write more, but as usual I’m limited on time here so I’m going to continue onto a bit about War Week.

War week is a bit of what it sounds like and bit not. I personally wouldn’t say it’s as crazy as the title sounds, but it is essentially there to give you the feeling of being in a war for a week. Although we’re only supposed to carry around 40% of our body weight for the week, most people end up carrying around 50%. It sounds ridiculous and it really is. It’s not normal. I’d like to say that I’ve started to find myself saying that phrase a lot lately, “This is not normal”.

The time of day doesn’t really matter during war week, might as well not have had a watch for the week. If it’s 4 AM or 4PM you could be doing the same thing. Walking 8 KM’s to the next point that we have to be at, running a drill with the entire pluga (battalion), or maybe catching a 20 minute catnap while you’re waiting for your next orders. Sleep isn’t a normal thing either, either you’re sleeping for a couple hours in the middle of the day with the sun beating down on you or you don’t sleep at all. If you are sleeping, there are other people awake guarding. What are we eating? Manot Krav (combat rations) of course! Tuna, Beans, Corn, Bread, and canned fruit are the basics for the week.

Targilim (training exercises?) are with the entire pluga and so incorporate over a hundred soldiers on the field/hills at once. Some kitot (squads) are laying cover fire, while others are charging up the hill and still others around on the side. Everyone has their job to do and eventually we end up conquering the target. There’s no such thing as losing. Sometimes there are “casualties” that we have to carry back down the hill, but we always win. I guess it’s good that we’re optimistic?

The beginning of the week started with another helicopter ride in a Blackhawk helicopter and later in the week I got to go in a CH-53 Sea Stallion. Let me just say that that helicopter is another “not normal” thing. It’s literally the magic school bus, I was just waiting for Ms. Frizzle to turn around from the pilots seat. The helicopter has seats for around 30 people and in battle can apparently accommodate around 50 people!!! It really is a flying bus!

One of the targilim we did had Merkava III Tanks along side us! Maybe not the newest of the new tanks, but still awesome! I can’t wait to see the Merkava IV – It’s the most advanced tank in the world!

I’m running out of writing steam here and it’s getting close to feeding time (lunch) so I’m gonna have to leave you all off here. Shanah Tovah Ya’ll (as my aunt says), and hope to write you all again soon!

  1. Kim says:

    I enjoy reading ur blog. A friend told me about it after I told her 2 of my sons had decided to do Aliyah. My youngest has to join the army for 6 months. He’ll b 25 Oct 23. The other son is 27.

    • Thanks!!! I love hearing from people who read my blog (gives me the reassurance that I’m not just writing it for myself ). Your son is almost exactly a year older than me… I’ll be 24 in 2 days!

      I believe the cutoff for the army is 26 right? So your other son doesn’t need to join? The 25 year old will most likely be going to Mikveh Alon, where I went, for the first three months. Feel free to skip back a bit in the blogs to read about it!

  2. gail & bob says:

    We miss you. Happy Birthday and Good Yontif. Keep it together and come back to us safe and sound. We love you. Bob & Gail

  3. gail says:


  4. Robert J. Paltrow says:

    I am sure you are morose about your lack of shiny jumpwings, but don’t discouraged~ You are Airborne….just not yet officially! No worries, you’ll get them in time and be part of an elite brotherhood. A brisk airborne salute to you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s