Now this blog was mentioned in an earlier blog post here and I’d like to forewarn that all of it’s contents are completely true. My Commander is Batshit Crazy. Before I start this, remember to check out the tons of new pictures over at The Lone Soldier Flick Page and become a fan on The Lone Soldier Facebook Page!

My commander, who will remain unnamed for the time being, just in case he stumbles upon my blog (even though he doesn’t know a lick of English), would make a wonderful pledge master in a fraternity. He loves to run us to the ground, slam us with pushups, barely feed us and then repeat the procedure over and over again until we’re on the brink of turning our guns on him. He does this all while screaming like I’ve never heard someone scream before (I am truly impressed that he hasn’t gone hoarse even once).

This man or shall I say boy, because I am just about 4 years his elder can really torture people in a way that is difficult to describe. All the things he forces us to do, he somehow makes seem easy as he blasts past us running or effortlessly performs other exercises (only lately have I begun to beat him with pushups [he’ll start shaking while I’m still going strong!]). He has a full beard and lightly thinning hair making him look a bit older than I, with a birth mark on his eyeball that truly makes him seem the killing type. At first I had a profound respect for him because everything we did he proved that he could do and many times could do even better. Lately this respect has turned into a bit of a joke to me though.

I’ve begun to realize that you take someone much more seriously when they get angry once in a while rather than being angry and loud all the time which is just what he is. One of the other Mefaked’s (commander) only gets loud once in a while, but you know to take him seriously when he does. My Mefaked screams and yells, and wonders why we continue to screw around. He hasn’t realized that his constant yelling has turned more into a bit of a laughing matter to us all rather than an intimidation factor. I’m looking forward to the day training is over and I can just tell him how batshit crazy he is. The problem is, we still have another 4 months of training, and he can still make us run till we drop in exhaustion.

This week (Thursday through Wednesday) we were sent to do guard duty at one of the bases on the border of the West Bank. We were doing guard duty there every day, each person in different places – some stayed on the base, some went out into field, some near the new fence they were building. On Tuesday I got an extra half day off before Shavuot. I was told it was because I was mitztaien (most excellent) but I really think it was because I was so run down and tired they all felt bad for me. Three other people got off early too, so I can’t really be sure. The past two weeks have been rough.

I came back to the army after 9 days off with my parents, which were fantastic and restful but caused a great shock to my body when I returned. It’s amazing how much a week affects you. I felt rested and good, but I wasn’t ready for what the army had in store for us. I had heard over my mayuchedet (special vacation) that I had received the Negev as my pakal (soldier’s position, such as sharpshooter, light machine gunner or something boring like radio… etc.). The Negev is the Israeli army’s Israeli made light machine gun and it’s supposedly a huge honor to receive as a pakal. It’s automatic firing, takes rambo like belts of bullets and is totally bad-ass. The one draw back is that it’s far from light. In addition to this, my mefaked was one of the ones leading our training on the gun, and he knew I wanted to be a sharpshooter… not a machine gunner (plus I have the best shot in my kita [squad] so I should have gotten it)

RAMBO!

We slept for 5-6 hours a night, being woken up in the middle of it every night for some sort of drills. Our last night we woke up for what soldiers not so eloquently call a “rape session”. At first I thought it was some kind of celebration, we were at the shooting range and there were glow sticks thrown everywhere, techno music blasting through a stereo they had brought and everyone was smiling and laughing. That changed all too soon. For the next 45 minutes or so we sprinted, crawled, rolled on the ground, got into kneeling position, prone position, standing position and performed jamming procedures all while having water thrown on us without any sort of rest. Soaking wet and covered in mud all beyond fatigued we returned to our rooms. And we had to sleep again after this!

After Shavua Negev (Negev week) we learned that we would be going to a base to guard for the next 5 days or so. We all thought it would be a pleasant time, considering most of the time when you guard, you only guard two hours and then have off for most of the day. This was different, and especially for me. I got screwed with my guard hours…badly. I was having guard duty at 7pm, 3am, and 11am. I hardly slept. Then on top of this, the last day of guard duty we went to sleep at 2am, and I was told by my mefaked that I was chosen to go guard where they were building new fences. This meant waking up at 5:30 am. Yep! That’s right, a whole 3 1/2 hours of sleep! The next day we were out for the next 13 hours. I was with another soldier walking around the entire day, in full gear – including the ceramic bullet proof vests we wear. Those are not light vests, not made for walking around in, they’re solely for guard duty.

In full gear in the West Bank

We finished at around 7pm and while waiting for the truck to pick us up to go back to the base, my mefaked decides it’s time for a workout session. Nine sets of 20 pushups and a nice 9 minutes of ab workouts later we finally head back to the base. We meet up with everyone else exhausted beyond belief and learn that we have madas (sport time). Great. At least it was short (2km and some stretching). Finally we slept! The next morning we woke up to madas again?!?!?! This time around though it was with our vests and guns. Great. After about half an hour of running and doing other exercises I could barely stand up and was told to go sit on the side. This rarely happens and was surprised. I was very out of it though so I openly welcomed the couple minutes of rest. I returned and did things as fast as I could but still barely kept up. My Commander(s) are Batshit Crazy.

Tomorrow I return to the army again, my girlfriend doesn’t know that I have this weekend off also 🙂 shhhh don’t tell her! It’s a surprise!

5 months

Posted: June 3, 2011 in Basic Training, Tzanchanim
Tags: , , , ,

Disclaimer!!! I wrote the following a couple weeks ago and never finished the blog. I’m not as angry and annoyed as I was then, but things do still tend to irk me from time to time. I’ve begun to try to accept that this is just the way the army is… Plus I have a working iPhone again which makes me happy, and a great girlfriend to massage my nervous wreck of a self. Without further ado, I present to you all an outdated, unfinished blog entry! Enjoy!

Wow, tomorrow will be 5 months since I started this crazy ride called the Israeli Defense Forces. That means only another 34,186,670 seconds left till I’m out. The reason I’m counting the seconds is because 13 months or a year and a month seems like such a short amount of time. When I started this adventure I didn’t realize that I would be checking every second that goes by. Whether I’m in the army timing EVERYTHING I do because the commander says to, or because it’s on the weekends and I don’t want to waste a second – I’m always checking the tick-tock of the clock.

It’s come to that point in my service where I’ve realized that not everything is perfect in the IDF, very far from it in fact. I won’t go into far reaching details with you now, but I’ve started to become a little cynical due to the broken promises that I’ve grown accustomed to.

Some of the promises are from the IDF, some are from companies, and others are just from people in general. The army promises that Lone Soldiers get out at 6am on Friday’s, I can’t remember the last time I got out before 9am. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but when you have less than 48 hours to get everything you need to get done for the week, it really makes a difference. It especially makes a difference because most of those 48 hours are “shabbat hours”, meaning NOTHING is open or working. When the phone company charges you a ridiculous $183 in a month, and they’re closed on the weekend… it doesn’t really help that you can’t call them to straighten it out. I’m starting to hate shabbat, it’s more of a time of being annoyed that I can’t get anything done, rather than a restful time.

OK, so now that I got my bitching out of the way, I can also say that I just completed one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life this week. The day before we left base we had an 8km masa (Journey/hike). The last kilometer we ran with a stretcher full of sandbags, and for the entire 8kms I went with the pakal mayim (water bag). This bag has 15 liters of water in it and so all together weighs around 40 pounds. Add this 40 pounds to the 25-30 pounds of equipment I already carry (1.5 liters of water, 6 loaded magazines, combat vest, dummy grenade, M16 and other small assorted items) and I’m carrying around 70 pounds of stuff. I’ve lost around 15 pounds in the army so far bringing me down to a skinny (semi-anorexic, as my girlfriend says) 150 pounds (68 kilo’s for you non-poundage people). I was carrying 46% of my body weight!!! what?!?!?!

It’s been another 2 weeks on base and the last week felt especially long, although technically being shorter, which clearly needs some explaining. I was stuck in a field with 4-5 hours to sleep each night and nothing to eat but manot krav (combat rations). The food IMHO really isn’t all that bad, you get several cans of tuna, a can of tuna salad, corn, beans, canned fruit, some random orange stuff which I still don’t know what it is, ketchup, mustard, jelly, chocolate spread and bread. The problem for me was the amount of time given to eat… First off you have 12 or so ravenous guys trying to grab anything they can get their grimy hands on, secondly you have to open half the cans (the other half have pull tabs, why they all don’t have this is beyond me!), thirdly we had to have 4 guys guarding while we were  eating so you need to switch on an off eating, and finally, fourthly if you’re me and everyone in my Kita (squad), you get less time than everyone else to eat. Most other Kitot (squads) got 15-20 minutes to eat. We would only get between 10-15 minutes because my mefaked is psychotic and thinks we’re in a special forces unit, but more on that in a later specialized blog post called “My Commander is Batshit Crazy”.

Field week was interesting to say the very least. I have barely any skin left on the heels of my feet because I was wearing boots for 4 1/2 days straight. I took them off once to change my socks half way though. It’s an weird  feeling not changing your socks… slowly but surely your sweat builds up into a sort of natural slimy lubricant for your feet. As disgusting as this sounds, it probably is some form of human evolution to sweat a lot from your feet when walking long distances – but I digress. We would walk/march/jog for half an hour or so and then “rest” during our lessons that we had. The lessons (at least the parts I understood) were about different formations and bunkers you can build in the wilderness. The formations part was pretty cool, and was easy for me to pick up considering it had nothing to do with Hebrew proficiency. Having been in the marching band in high school (no, it was nothing like Drumline), I felt like my good ole snare drum had been replaced by a M16A1 and I was in the army! oh shit almost forgot about that last part…

The first night we got to sleep in a tent! How exciting, a nice, cozy tent…with holes everywhere. It was a bit chilly at night considering we didn’t have sleeping bags and were just sleeping in our uniforms with our combat vests as pillows… oh what’s that? a nice soft magazine full of bullets for a head rest? oh joy! We did get one scratchy wool blanket to share between two people so that was nice spooning with my partner Tal for the night. I’d say we slept about 30 minutes before getting woken up by gunshots (blanks) and screaming everywhere. We had to get up, put on our vests and have a simulated gunfight outside. Then it was time to sleep another 2 hours or so before I had to guard for 20 minutes. Another 2 hours later and I was up for the day. A whole day of drills and marching, and crawling later we arrived at our second location for sleeping.

hiking... (we have some girl that takes pictures sometimes now, which is great for me!)

The second night we slept on the side of a hill. Quite literally we carried our packs up a hill, stopped in a random spot and our commander said go to sleep. I had the first guarding shift of the night and was straining to keep my heavy eyelids open. Finally I got to lay down and sleep. Waking up to the sun in my eyes and ants crawling on me I realized I was officially in field week. The days were all the same: march here, crawl there, listen to this, eat this really fast. Let’s just say the only times we stopped moving was when we got new orders or had a lesson to learn. This particular day we got to build an “emdah esh” (roughly translated as a “firing bunker”). It’s basically a bunker you dig out that’s used as a firing position. It’s dug down deep enough so that you can’t be hit by incoming fire, and has large rocks surrounding the outside where in a few spots you can aim your gun out and fire if needed. My “chulia” (literally “link”, but really translates as squad “sub-division”) of 6 guys built one big enough for all of us to be in. It took over an hour of digging, carrying rocks and uprooting plants to be used as camouflage. It was the most fun I had all day!

The third night we slept in our bunkers that we had made during the day and also had to guard throughout the night. I had a half hour shift on the radio which was actually quite fun because we got our commanders night vision goggles which I played with for almost the entire half hour. I really want a pair. I also had to “guard” for an hour in the bunker – that was a joke, as soon as I started guarding I passed out. Luckily I had set an alarm for the next person. After talking to everyone else the next day, apparently everyone slept during our guard sessions, it was impossible not to. The following morning we did a lot of the same again, but in the afternoon there was a crazy heat wave and they wouldn’t let us do anything for nearly an hour and a half. That was a GREAT nap time. P.S. just to show how hot it was these days, a couple kids got sick and one kid went into shock from being so dehydrated. Late in the afternoon we built something of a “surveillance point” – I don’t remember the name in Hebrew. Lots of bushes for camouflage, not as deep as the firing pit, and covered by a mesh screen so you can see out but people have a difficult time seeing in. Again, pretty cool stuff – that is until we abandoned our point because a snake was in it.

The fourth night was our “Layla Lavan” or “White Night”. It’s basically a sleepless night of marching and testing. We marched all over the wilderness stopping at different points and being tested on all the things we learned the last several days. We had things like a simulated ambush across a road, information gathering, lost personnel, firing formations, first aid testing, crawling, and basically just tons of walking up and down hills all night. The last thing we did was have a 1KM race against all the other squads back to base. The catch is that we were carrying a stretcher with one of our guys on it. A few minute later and gasping for air we arrived back on base for the first time in 4 1/2 days.

We were told that we had an hour of free time to shower and whatever we need to do. About 20 minutes later though (and after some people had showered already) they were screaming for everyone to be back and ready in uniform with vest on. We went for a short walk/jog of around 1-1.5 KM and then did pushups, situps and sprints for around half an hour. After this we were told to polish our shoes and be outside in formation. An extremely long speech from our brigade’s commander later of which I paid zero attention to because I was putting all my effort into not falling over from exhaustion we were handed our first bit of army pride for our dog tags:

holder for my dog tags 🙂

In my free time I’ve been sleeping, eating, drinking beer, getting annoyed with my “adopted parents” here in Israel, being with my girlfriend and sleeping more. I’ve also been looking for a new iPhone so I can be a bit more connected while I’m on base and possibly start trading some stocks again? Not sure if that’s a terrible idea or not, but I figure I have time to make a trade a day and could maybe make a little cash on the side of the measly pocket money the army is giving me. Also I’m uploading new music to one of my old ventures again over at Seen At The Scene, so check that out if you like new music (mostly club/dubstep/electro stuff). Tonight I’m going to Supersal (a big supermarket here) to spend my 120 shekels (40 bucks or so) that the army gives me every month to buy whatever the hell I want. I’m also gonna go see “Thor” in theatres. Just trying to be a normal person here! Peace out from the Middle East.

Passover.

Posted: April 26, 2011 in Basic Training, Tzanchanim
Tags: , , ,

All you Jews out there should know that it was just Passover. Hope you all had wonderful, delicious, family and friend filled seders! To honor such, I will be “passing over” this blog. I had time off from the army and very much enjoyed it! I’m closing the base next weekend so I won’t be able to update then, and the week after that I have Field Week. Basically I’m gonna be living in dirt, eating manot krav (combat rations) and hating my life for week! yay! See you guys in 2 weeks!

Ok, Ok, I know it’s been a while since I’ve given an update. If you hadn’t heard I got into the 101st Pluga (company), not the 202nd like I thought I would be going. The only thing I’m a little disappointed about is that now I won’t have the possibility of going to sniper school (apparently only 202 is getting snipers this draft). I still have the possibility of being a Kala (sharpshooter) and I’ve been doing pretty well in target practice so we’ll see what happens…
We’ve learned a lot these past couple weeks and I’m really starting to get into the groove of basic training. I’m sure it’s only going to get harder and more intensive but here’s a bit of a run down of what we’ve been up to lately (keep in mind all of these include lots of classroom lessons before hand):
  • first aid including tourniquet’s, bandages, rescue breathing etc. We all did a basic course for field first aid, basically if someone’s shot or injured how to care for them before a medic shows up.
  • We had a barour. A barour is a basic physical test. nothing special, running, situps, pushups.
  • gas tent full of tear gas. Below is an image of me wearing a gas mask, the thing about this exercise is that they make you run around and do pushups before you run into the tent so you’re breathing heavily. It’s harder to breath in the gas mask and when you’re inside the tent you only run and do more pushups, eventually they tell you to take off your gas masks. Your body forces you to take a gigantic breath as soon as you take off your mask and you instantly realize how terrible of an idea that was… The burning in your lungs is sensational and soon after you realize that your eyes are on fire and tearing at the same time. 15-20 seconds later they tell you to run out of the tent into the open air. Slowly the burning and tingling fades away over the course of 5-10 minutes, but I definitely know now how that stuff disperses a whole crowd of people so quickly… a weird part of me wants to try it again!
  • dont mess with me.

    the tent full of tear gas

  • Target shooting with iron sights and reflex scope. We’ve certainly been putting in the hours at the shooting ranges. Haven’t been shooting a ton of bullets yet, but we’ve calibrated our guns and began doing some training (speed shooting and night shooting so far). Iron sights are ok to shoot with but the reflex scope that we have is awesome. The scopes are made by an Israeli company and the dot stays on target no matter where you move your head! Very cool stuff, it has a radioactive element in it so it works day and night without batteries!

    one of the shooting ranges

  • We threw a grenade. Honestly wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be… it was pretty much just like throwing a baseball and then hearing loud boom. You can’t watch it blow up because you have to duck down behind a protective barrier before hand. I know it’s all about safety, but everyone wants to see the boom, not just the consequences!

    Saw a blackhawk fly overhead while we were in the field!

    That’s pretty much what we’ve been up to, we also had a bunch of running, 2 Masaot (hike/journey), and as of this week guard duty and kitchen duty (fun!). I’d like to throw out a quick thank you to anyone who donates money to the IDF, Friends of the IDF, and/or any other programs. The Lone Soldiers on base got some cool and helpful gifts these past two weeks! Keep up to date with the news, some interesting things have been happening lately with the Iron Dome project functionally working. If you’ve emailed me lately, I apologize for not getting back to you, haven’t had much time lately… I will get back to you though! For the most frequent updates get at me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLoneSoldier

    Kitchen Fun!

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Basic Training, Tzanchanim
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