Post 44: Taking the hill

After 40 minutes of walking through the scorching desert sun, thirty pound ammunition vests and five pound m-4s weighing down our bodies, four pound helmets weighing down our heads, the officer motions to the commanders, and we lower to one knee in the shade of a group of boulders, 300 meters south of the hill where the enemy is laying in wait to ambush us. The commanders and the assistant commanders, commanders in all but rank, are called to the front to take the orders from the ranking officer. The enemy has staked out positions on the mountain face, and our objective is to take the hill. Our strategy will be to split our forces. The first team will begin its ascent from an incline on the left side of the mountain as my team lays the cover fire. When our comrades pass a pre-determined point, we will descend from the high ground into the river that runs along the base of the mountain and cuts into it’s eastern face. When we reach the first plateau, we will combine forces and make a push together for the summit where the bulk of the enemy combatants will be situated. After we are briefed on the plan of attack, we crawl to our position on the high ground and lie in wait for the other half of our forces to reach their starting point. After what could have been minutes or hours, the command comes to open fire, and we pour ammunition over the enemy, his positions, though hard to see in the evening twilight, are clearly visible through the scope of our sharp shooter’s gun, who calls out their positions to us. Our objective is to keep a steady flow of fire on the enemy so our comrades can advance up the hill.

When the order is given, we cease fire and break towards the stream baselining the mountain. As my vest flaps and my chest pounds, I try to concentrate only on my objective. All around me m-16 cartridges and grenades are exploding. The ear-splitting explosions are dangerously close, and for the first time in my army career, I am scared for my life, but I put my fear aside and push on. There is no room for fear in combat.

After running for what seems like hours, we reach our first destination, a covered area on the east side of the mountain on the left side of the stream. We take up defensive positions and wait for our officer to join us from the second team. He does so within a minute of our arrival, and on his order, we begin our ascent. The majority lay cover fire as a few advance, and then the roles are reversed until we are once again all lying in a straight line facing the top of the mountain.

As I lie in wait for our final push to the summit, I pant like a dog and try in vain to catch my breath. The 100 percent cotton uniform sticks to my body in the heat of the breezeless desert night, and my helmet traps a puddle of sweat against my brow.

To my left are my friends, and to my right is my commanding officer. In that moment, nothing is important except my cover fire and my next roll up the mountain. As we come within ten feet of our targets, my officer orders a grenade. After it explodes, we jump to our feet and charge the targets with guns blazing. Fortunately, the cardboard targets dont shoot back. While this was just an exercise, the bullets flying around me were very much real and our strategy for the charge was the same as it would have been in true combat. When the exercise is completed, we stand on our feet, remove our helmets, and take in the view. The sillouettes of the buildings of a neighboring city are contrasted against the pink hue of the post sunset sky. A blanket of silence falls over the desert night, and the ringing in our ears from the punishing sounds of exploding cartridges begins to fade as our bodies acclimate to the post-combat calm. For now, all is peaceful, but we are always training to be ready for the day when the targets will not be cardboard…


3 Responses to “Post 44: Taking the hill”

  1. Aunt Rho & Uncle Vic Says:

    WHEW….that was scary…glad we came to the end peacefully. please stay safe and know we think about you with love, every day.
    Aunt Rho & Uncle Vic

  2. Aunt Amy Says:

    As always, you give us a remarkably clear picture of your surroundings, experiences and emotions. Thank you for keeping in touch and for sharing it all. Stay safe, we love and miss you.
    Reubs, Mollie, Aunt Amy and Uncle Larry

  3. Beverly & Ray Broth Says:

    Once more you have shown your skill in writing of your daily experience. Until we got to the part where it was an excersise we were engrossed on the activity of the action and the depth of your writing ability. At each writing you continue to make us prouder and prouder of you and how you have grown. We sincerely continue to hope and pray that you stay safe, continue your writing and when Your girl friend is Truly Free you can put these letters together and write the greatest biography of the IDF, Israel and you that has ever been written. We will be seeing Aunt Sydel and Uncle Arnold in early September so, if your ears are burning you should know that we are talking about you and your family…With much Love and Admiration….Bev & Ray.

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