Saturday, 6 March 2010

Global Positioning System

After a sleepless weekend in Hebron, we returned to another week in the army, instead of being on the Paratroopers' base, half of my battalion spent the week on the army's central base for infantry soldiers' training.

The people who went to this base was anyone who was taking a course on learning a new role within the army; from drivers to radio men. Anyone who wasn't getting a new 'pakal' (accessory) would be staying on base to do cleaning work or something like that. Since I'm already a sharpshooter, I assumed that I wouldn't be getting another 'pakal'. However, I soon learnt that I was going to be learning about being a GPS man, which I thought was really weird because I have always been a really un-technical person. Then I found out that the other person in my platoon who was getting the GPS was David, who happens to have made aliyah from Chicago. My suspicion over the new role was confirmed when I was told that the machine is in English, so of course that was the reason for my new job!!

So all week I was on this base learning about the GPS system, the machine and navigation, in general. The lessons weren't really that interesting, but using the machine to navigate was good fun and actually really easy. At first I just couldn't stop laughing in the lessons, for once the shoe was on the other foot as all the Israelis in the course attempted to say 'navigate route', in a terrible accent. The lessons also started to become really difficult for me, I mean I haven't even learnt topographyin English and suddenly I was learning it in Hebrew. The week passed and now I am a certified GPS user, impressed?, I will be able to use my new skills in combat by helping the platoon commander in navigating.

It was an unusual couple of weeks, I have been on five different bases and have constantly been living out of bag, clearly being at the tzanchanim base for three straight months (which is the best base in Israel for infantry and is like a hotel) is obviously having an effect on me. In fact, this last week we slept in tents, which was ok but something I don't really want to get use to, and thankfully, unlike Nachal and Givati who spend all their training in tents, I won't really have to.

Tents, the enemy of tzan-

I came back to Ortal this week on Thursday because I went to a memorial service for a fallen tzanchanim soldier, and from the cemetry we were allowed to go straight home. It was the 40th anniversary of the date that this particular soldier had died and every time there is a memorial service like this, tzanchanim send some soldiers to represent the unit and comfort the family. This particular soldier had fallen in the Sinai campaign, after making aliyah with his family from Turkey in the 60s. After learning about this soldier, I was surprised to see that this soldiers' parents were still alive, who must have been at least in their 90s. The service was actually really emotional, seeing these old parents crying at the grave of their son, who died aged 20. It made me devastated to think that this couple had made aliyah, probably escaping from anti-semitism, and then suddenly their son died in defence of this country. I don't want to sound like a preacher or something, but too many lives have been lost for this country and despite all the politics and all the war, all the Jewish nation wants is peace. That was a bit deep, but going to the memorial service and seeing all the Jewish graves made me really think.

This week was also kind of hard because my parents were moving house this week and they've had some problems with it, which has obviously had an effect on me. Although everything will be ok in the end., it's just kind of hard not being able to do anything from this far away. Anyway, for some unknown reason, which has caused the battalion to be in uproar, we have to go back to the army Saturday night, after Shabbat is out!!! Sometimes, I just hate the army.

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