Monday, 21 February 2011

Sgt. Sank

What a crazy couple days I have had; all leading to me sitting back here in my room in my kibbutz, Ortal, at the start of ANOTHER regila! Yes, that's right, despite only going back to the army on Thursday, following a week's long 'regila' (holiday from the army for kravi soldiers), I was in the army approximately 48 hours before I was sent on another week's holiday!!! I will explain, as we go along...

First of all, let's start with the 'regila' that I just had, it really was a great one. I managed to see all my friends; both from my garin and guys from the platoon, as well as spending some time on the kibbutz. The highlight of the regila was probably the incredible football match where Spurs beat Milan away in the Champions League, but in general, it was a nice break from the army and I relaxed in the days and partied pretty hard in the nights. Right in the middle of my regila, I was called by the army to go to this special event in Jerusalem. The tzanchanim brigade sent a small group of soldiers (mainly officers), supposedly the "best of the brigade", to a boarding school near Jerusalem where we talked to students about their upcoming draft and how important it is to do a meaningful army service. I was obviously picked to go because of my story and when I introduced myself to all the students as a "lone soldier from London", the spotlight was immediately upon me and they were all asking the usual questions. As much as I was annoyed to give up a day of my holiday, it was definitely a worthy cause and a highly enjoyable experience to be with all these high ranking officers; including the commander of the whole brigade and the commmander of the training base, the latter of whom I am now on first name terms with!!!

Watching the Spurs game on the kibbutz - pure pride.

Another thing that happened recently was my change of ranks. I went from being a 'rabat' (corporal) to a 'samal' (sergeant). My rank changed because of the amount of time I have been in the army; all boys become sergeants after completing a year and four months of their service. So although I haven't actually done something to achieve this increase of rank, it does mean that I get to put the three stripes (which represents being a 'samal') on my aleph uniform, the uniform I wear when travelling to/from the army and for formal events. I found out, after reading about it on, that becoming a 'samal' also activates a 1.8 shekel increase in my army wage!! Putting the three stripes on my uniform is a very clear sign of being relatively veteran in the army and since I started my service before the rest of my army friends from November '09 draft (due to the fact that Garin Tzabar participants draft together in October), I am the only one in my platoon, apart from the commanders naturally, who has the priveledge of being a 'samal'!

Showing off my stripes!!!

As I do for every blog, I write down on my iPhone a brief outline of what I will write about in the upcoming post, as it is quite hard to rememeber exactly what happes over a period of seventeen days. Well, I had written a specific topic that I wanted to talk about in this blog but, as things turn out, ironically, it has become even more topical. I was going to talk about one particular thing that has been slowly annoying me in my army service. That thing is how it seems that every time I make a good friend in the army, he ends up leaving me and going to commanders' course. This happened a number of times already; with guys from both my original class on the training base and those who are with my now in the battalion, going off to commanders' course. I was never bothered about not going to 'makim' (commanders' course) as I was never much of a model soldier; staying behind to clean up or volunteering to do stuff was never really my style. I was kind of lazy and was happy to be a 'hapash' (simple soldier i.e. not a commander) for the whole of my service, as I have been very comfortable in the battalion and on the 'kav'. However (I think you can see what's coming here), the night before I went back to the army following my regila, my officer called me to tell me that I was going to 'makim'...

A couple of the guys from the 'erev mahlaka' (platoon evening) that we had on the regila. I had to say goodbye to them, as I left to 'makim' :(

For me this is a massive deal. As I said, I was never keen on going to 'makim'; content on staying a 'hapash' until the end as I have enjoyed being with my platoon and company so much. Another reason why 'makim' didn't suit me was that going to the course would mean giving up on a lot of the lone soldier rights that I take excellent advantage of, for example, taking two weeks off at Pesach when my parents come, is going to be highly unlikely if I am on the course, since every day is supposedly vital in becoming qualified. However, since being told that I would be going to 'makim', I have realised that it is an amazing opportunity and now I am desperate to go for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's another of the many experiences that I have thrived on doing throughout my whole army service; doing a three month course with guys from all the other infantry brigades (golani, givati etc) and learning how to be a commander is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is also great for your C.V. once you leave the army; to say that you were a 'kravi' (combat) soldier in tzanchanim and completed commanders' course is surely a good way to sell oneself. The more that I have convinced myself that I would never go to 'makim', makes it even sweeter that I have actually been chosen and recommended by my own commanders and it gives more determination to go to the course and really try and do well. I can't tell you enough how happy I am to have been asked and, despite being slightly skeptical at first, am now 100% focused on doing this. However, nothing is definite yet, I am first doing three weeks of prepartion for 'makim' (hence, the reason for the regila) and only after the preparation, will I be evaluated if I am suitable to go to the course. Over the next couple of weeks, I will explain in more depth the procedure of this preparation, as well as what going to 'makim' means, in terms, of the rest of my service.

I am literally over the moon about the whole 'makim' thing and now just hope that everything goes well and I end up going to the course in around a months' time. So, I'm now on another regila (!) and plan to do pretty much the same as what I did in the last one. I will be sure to write another blog after the end of the first week of the preparation for 'makim' and will let you know about what happens...


  1. well done Sam you were great on the IDF radio (Galey Tzahal) - we listened to your words here in London and were very very proud!
    Kol Hakavod achi :-)
    Zac and the guys at UJIA

  2. Hi Sam,

    I heard you on the radio so I went on to read your posts(some of it).
    It is very moving to see the way you did and I wish good luck forward down the road!

    Tel Aviv

  3. congratulations mate! all be best, keep doing well