Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Tekes of a First Mission and Happy New Year

"This will be your very first operation," my officer instructed my platoon shortly before the tekes kumta [commencement ceremony] for the Nachal soldiers that began their service in March 2009. My platoon was selected to serve as the security force for the evening ceremony near Pardes-Hanna in northern Israel. With no obvious security concerns, our job was mostly to look impressive and vaguely intimidating in our coal-gray berets. My guess is our commanders also hoped that the day would provide my platoon with an initial sense of what it means to be entrusted with a mission defending the people of Israel.

I was posted in full view of the entire ceremony and so I had ample opportunity to look and be impressed by my surroundings. Seeing the soldiers of Nachal March 2009 receive their bright green berets that mark the conclusion of their training allowed me to reflect on how far I have come in such a short time--and how much more lies ahead until the distant day when I too, please G, will stand at the conclusion of my lengthy training with my peers by my side and my family and friends in attendance.

On base in the Negev desert it is easy to forget that all the challenges I face are designed to enable me to defend the citizens of the state of Israel. Watching the Nachal soldiers transition from training to active duty, with their proud loved ones entrusted for the moment to my care, was a healthy reminder of what my training is all about.

A very different reminder of the road that awaits took place later that night. By the time my platoon arrived back on base the hour was late and we were sent right to bed. Within minutes of settling into my unbelievably comfortable sleeping bag, my commander rushed into the tent and ordered that my entire platoon had to be dressed and outside in two minutes. Guys lunged for uniforms in a panic, minds already darting ahead to the trouble our commanders had in mind for us this late at night. Before two minutes had even elapsed, our commander returned and insisted we all exit the tent immediately. With socks and gatkes still flying, we ran out to discover our two squad commanders holding sparkling candles and with a count of 10, 9, 8...announced the start of the New Year, 2010!

Happy New Year!


  1. At this point in an American movie, the ragtag squad of soldiers from incongruously different backgrounds would go for a night on the town and a love interest would be introduced.