Top writer tells folks of pride in IDF son
Dearest Mom and Dad, Tonight Sxxxx was released from the airforce. I am filled with emotion. It has been such a process and once again this beautiful child has sent me flying.
It takes me back to the day he was enlisted into the airforce. A culmination of an incredible process that led up to that unforgettable day. He was proud and so was I. He was excited and looking forward and I was breaking apart inside. I knew that things would never be the same but at the same time, positive and excited for his embarking on this incredible journey.
RIGHT: BONITA LYNETTE is a pseudonym for security reasons. Her regular emotive letters home to her folks in Johannesburg gave South Africans an insight on how parents of IDF soldiers felt during the Gaza offensive
I knew inside me that this was going to be positive and started thinking of all he had been through. The decision to give up playing soccer – the love of his life – at a critical stage of his developing years as the realisation dawned on him, that he would never get anywhere if he carried on.
The struggle with himself to fill the deep hole – time on his hands and the fact that nothing else could give him that adrenalin and the self-satisfaction of playing the winning goal in a soccer match.
Thought about his struggle with Axx and the psychologist who called me in and looked at me with that “unfortunate” look in his eyes when he explained that Sxxxx has serious ADHD and would need to be put into a special class at school! The teachers at junior school who called me in, time and again to give Sxxxx his “last” chance to improve his functioning in the classroom and the teachers in High School who forced me to sign an affidavit that if he didn’t “pull up his socks” and start studying, he would be forced “be removed” from the school.
LEFT: During Operation Protective Edge, Jewish Report’s rapporteur on the ground, Rolene Marks, submitted regular reports that were very well read by our users. See them all at DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT. In total, SAJR Online ran 104 content items on OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE during the short conflict. Click the link above to find them all.
Somehow though, I always believed in him and always had this gut feeling, knowing that he would succeed.
Well, even though it was hardly a surprise when we went to the ceremony marking the end of Sxxxx’s basic training, when we heard his name being announced as the receiver of the Award of Excellence of the Basic Training Course, I felt like we had climbed Mount Everest. He took it in his stride, moving forward full speed ahead. He was sent to a “special security” airforce base in the centre of Israel after the course and started another three month course to be trained for his position in the airforce. He came home every second weekend and my heart was with him every step of the way. Then the day came when we received an invitation to the Final Ceremony that would lead him to his position and to the base that he would be serving in.
We were told that he had been chosen for a special unit in the airforce and weren’t given any details of where he would be serving and what he would be doing. The feeling was one of no control. I had given my son away to other parents and our job as parents felt like it had come to an end. He was in their hands and we were there, standing on the sidelines. Arrived at the ceremony which was held in the forests of Beit Shemesh.
A far-flung SA teen could never dream of this
It was on the verge of sunset and the picture still remains in my mind, of all the parents arriving to see their children at the prize-giving ceremony. I was completely choked up. What a privilege to be a part of such a phenomenal process. Reminded me again of our Betar camp days in Warmer PE, standing under the trees singing Hatikvah and vowing for “NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM”. It is kind of a cycle that goes round and as a teenager in far-away SA, would never have dreamed of being given the opportunity to experience a process so significant.
As I was listening to all the announcements, again bursting with pride, was absolutely astounded when my beautiful child went up once again as he received the Certificate of Excellence for this course too. There I stood, under the trees of the Beit Shemesh forest with the sun setting in the background, the voices of Hatikvah in the background – couldn’t stop the tears pouring down my face.
‘Really, what were his chances?’
Well Sxxxx is a force to be dealt with. As he stepped foot in the airforce base, he requested a meeting with his officer in charge. He told them that he had a dream. That he wanted to be given a chance to try out to be accepted into the Naval Officer’s Course. As Sxxxx has an eye problem, his request to be accepted into the pilot’s course in the airforce, was turned down.
Stories in this series of Top Reads 2014:
- JEWISH REPORT’S 2014 HIT PARADE= How it works and how to find, share and follow the series
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- NEW WORDS FOR JEWS IN 5774= The “QUENELLE”, ISIS, #BringBackOurBoys & “tunnel” join new Scrabble words like “schmutz” & tuchus. The 5774 glossary…
His next best chance and the next best course in the Army, the Navy Officer’s course. It is a four day try-out session and the selection process, tough. Little did he know that as he had been trained for a special course in the airforce and gone through the process for special security clearance, his chances were next to nil. The army had invested in him for a career in the airforce. However, he wasn’t interested and didn’t even ask about the possibilities, just went right ahead.
Sxxxx was not giving up on his dream. He had already been to a try-out session in the Navy and was turned down. Really, what were his chances????
Nothing more was said re the issue and six months down the line, Sxxxx received punishment for driving in the back of an army vehicle without a seatbelt. We were devastated as the punishment involved confinement in the base for 10 days. As he had already come to the end of a regular two-week stint, it meant four weeks without seeing him.
I was down about it and Dxxxxxxe said to me: “Mom, there has to be a reason, just accept that something good will come of it.” And so it happened that on the Tuesday lunchtime after the third week, Sxxxx sent a message to say: “On my way home.”
‘No guarantees mate’
His officer in charge felt sorry for him and decided to release him for one night home with his family. Nobody else was released that night. He came home, full of cold and flu and I felt relief. At least I would be able to spoil him a bit, even if only for a few hours. But as he walked in the door, he got a phone call from his base. “Did you ask to try out for the Navy Officer’s Course”???
My heart jumped. What was this all about?? The guy on the phone explained that he had orders to pass on a very strange message to say that Sxxxx had to be at the initiation for the try-out session for the Navy Officers course, the very next morning at 8am. Only afterwards, did it dawn on me, that, had he not been punished and not been sent home that night, there would have been no way for him to leave his base without pre-arrangement, at such short notice. The base is a high security base in the middle of nowhere and special transport permission needs to be arranged in advance for any soldier arriving or leaving the base.
Couldn’t believe my eyes. 8am the following am he was there only to be informed that the try-out was starting on Sunday 8am in Haifa. He was going for four days and by now, knew what it entailed. He was ill and explained to them that he had had no time to prepare, had a temperature and pleaded to be sent for the next try-out.
The officer looked at him and said that the next one was six months down the line and “NO GUARANTEES MATE”.
I can’t describe the feeling
And so it was, with my heart in my boots, that we sent him off on Sunday morning and just prayed for strength for the days ahead. Sxxxx sent a message while on the way, just before he had to hand his phone in for safe-keeping, to say: “NOT COMING HOME WITHOUT IT”!! I had complete and utter faith in him.
A strange number appeared on my phone on Wed afternoon and didn’t even pick up the call. I don’t answer unrecognised numbers. However, it came up again and again and thought someone’s insisting on speaking to me. I heard this quiet and emotional voice on the phone and the sentence ringing in my ears: “MOM I MADE IT. I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED INTO THE NAVY OFFICER’S COURSE!!!!!” The unheard of had happened. He said that moment when five high ranking navy officers standing in front of him, his clothes drenched from day one’s freezing weather – was the best moment of his life. SXXXX RXXXX, WELCOME TO HOVLIM (NAVY OFFICER’S COURSE).
Ran downstairs out of my office, tears streaming down my face and outside into the street. Started shouting and screaming on the phone “I knew you would do it!” Can’t describe the feeling.
‘My son has become a celebrity’
And so my son has become a celebrity. First time ever that a soldier has been released from his high security base in the airforce into another unit. He became the talk of the base and even his officers in charge had no idea what the procedure entailed.
Sxxxx has now been released from the army for three months till the course starts. He has a two-and-a-half-year training course ahead of him – a course that makes life look easy. Entails pushing yourself to the limit, physically, mentally, emotionally and all this while studying for a three-year political science degree in eight months. No chance for failure. If you don’t make the mark, you get kicked out of the course!
Sxxxx, I give you my heart and soul, wish you love and strength and pray that you will carry with you and remember, all that we have given you and taught you – that you know that your family are behind you, supporting you. I know that no matter what, you will take this challenge seriously and walk out at the end of the day, with your head held sky high – PROUD OF YOURSELF, PROUD OF YOUR FAMILY AND PROUD TO BE AN ISRAELI!
Love always, Bonni
- Bonita Lynette is an alias which Jewish Report agreed to use to protect the sensitivity of her sons who are in sensitive positions in the IDF. During the Gaza conflict, she shared her deepest emotions with her parents in Johannesburg – and became one of the website’s top-read writers, together with Rolene Marks, during Operation Protective Edge.