The Lone Soldier
By: Max J. Littman
Joseph was alone in every way imaginable. He was across the ocean from his home, he could barely speak the language, and most importantly he was fighting in a foreign military. It was not a draft of any sort. He was simply volunteering to fight for a country that he held close to his heart.
Joseph was born and raised as a Conservative Jew and fairly religious, he went to synagogue weekly, was a bar-mitzvah, and went to religious school. His family was very well off having been the next in a long line of lawyers in the family, both his parents were business lawyers and despite being "workaholics" loved their jobs.
Joseph Steinman also had an average build for an 18 year old and if anything was a bit stronger than average from years of hauling legal files for his parents. Growing up in rural Virginia (his parents commuted to their law office in D.C.), had been a terrible experience for him. He grew up in a neighborhood without any other Jews and all throughout school had been tormented for being "different."
The first day he stepped into high school was a nightmare. His parents had decided that moving out of their upscale Georgetown neighborhood would be great for Joseph. It was a quiet morning in summer right after his 8th grade year. Joseph was lounging around the couch watching some cartoons when his parents walked downstairs. "Joseph," they had started out saying, "we have something to tell you."
"Yeah what is it," responded a weary Joseph."
"We have big exciting news for you," his mom responded exuberantly.
Joseph looked at her waiting for her to continue. "We're moving to Mecklenburg so we have a change of pace and a nice life style." Joseph stared at her for a long time then went running to his room. Mecklenburg was worse than he could ever have imagined. He walked into his freshman year and from then on wished he could fit in and stared longingly at his old pictures of Georgetown. The only thing he could think of was when he was 18 to leave, and that's exactly what he did. While he was filling out college applications he came across an interesting advertisement. It was for the Israeli military asking for American volunteers to sign up for 4 years in the IDF. Joseph jumped at the opportunity and immediately signed up. He was told to report for basic training in three weeks, so he hopped on a flight to Tel-Aviv and never stepped foot on American soil again.
His basic training had started out hard and he kept going back to it. When he had enlisted he had been told to report to the desert somewhere in the vicinity of Beersheba. When he reported he not only could tell he was an outsider but everyone else could too. The language barrier wasn't too bad since all the troops had been taught English at a young age. The main problem was catching up. They were starting the units training with a broad live fire exercise. Luckily for Joseph they were only firing blanks or he wouldn't be able to tell about it later. His unit was an attack helicopter unit. While in the States he had been able to get his pilots license and by his standards could fly pretty well. He got to be one of the pilots in his unit flying brand new Blackhawks. Their part of the exercise would be to reach their helicopters and hopefully destroy the "enemy" with heavy machine guns. Each man in the crew had been given a galil and told to make it count. After what seemed like an eternity Josephs flight crew made it to a small clearing with 4 Blackhawks. Each helicopter had a crew of 6 soldiers for it. So far in the exercise Joseph's helicopter squad had "lost" two men in the exercise. The men weren't dead but had to play dead after getting hit in vital points with blanks. The closest Joseph had been to getting hit was a blank whizzing by his ear. The four remaining piled into the Blackhawk. It was equipped with a 105 mm M102 Howitzer. The remaining crew was Joseph, the gunner and two infantrymen (the two who were hit were also infantry.) The idea was for the infantry to fast rope down behind enemy lines but that had to be changed a bit. Now they were going to put down the copter and have all four of them to slip behind enemy lines. First their primary mission was to unleash hell on the enemy stronghold trying to break in. Joseph expertly guided the copter to a large cave and the howitzer bellowed. After the howitzer was out of shells all thirty being pumped towards the enemy cave they were ready to go down. The four grabbed their galil's and cautiously slipped out of the helicopter. Bad idea, 8 enemy light infantry were charging. Joseph and his team lunged back in the helicopter to try to get in the air. In the nick of time Joseph had gotten the helicopter 20 feet up, firing range. From both sides Josephs squad opened fire, stopping the 8 enemies dead in their tracks. Joseph wanted to get closer to the enemy base. As they flew over it they spotted a position right on top of the rocky outcropping of the enemy base. They landed silently right on it and snuck through a small opening into the base. The base was nearly empty having most of its men go on the counter-attack. Joseph's team quickly and effectively took over securing the base. After nearly 24 hours and tons of work Joseph's first major obstacle in the IDF was done. It might only been a drill but it was a sign of good things to come.