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IDF Troops Hail Elderly Reservists as They Rejoin the Ranks

March 27, 2024

by: Iris Lifshitz Klieger and Nina Fox ~ Ynetnews

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Reservists of all ages make their way to Israel to show their heart and support for their homeland (illustrative).

Wednesday, 27 March 2024 | Until about two years ago, Lt. Col. (Res.) Itzik Grossman, 71, was still volunteering for reserve duty. However, following the events of October 7, Grossman, a combat navigator who fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War with the 119th Squadron and also participated in the First Lebanon War, donned his uniform again and re-enlisted.

“I received a call that volunteers were needed, and immediately joined the effort,” he recounts. “In October, I completed an Air Force auxiliary officer course, and since then, I’ve been in the reserves. We, as auxiliary officers, mediate between the Air Force and ground forces that require assistance, coordinating support for them with combat aircraft or conducting rescues with helicopters. In this war, the Israeli Air Force [IAF] provides support unlike anything before.”

Grossman never imagined he’d volunteer for the army again at his ripe age and face field conditions. “Living in a tent with another hundred people and communal showers, I’ve already forgotten what that looks like. But that’s what needs to be done now, and I’m glad for the opportunity to contribute,” he says.

“I mostly serve with reservists younger than me from all walks of life,” he adds. “In the first months of the war, when we were stationed in the south, an officer approached me and said, ‘You don’t know what it does to us to see you here. When we see a person your age volunteering, we understand what we’re doing here, and it gives us motivation.'”

“I’ve been thanked many times,” says the 71-year-old reservist. “My family is very supportive and appreciative of my volunteering, and my grandchildren are very proud of me and support me.”

In his current reserves duty, Grossman also managed to close a personal circle as part of the team for the Carmeli Brigade, where his cousin, David Yeshayahu Grossman, fell in battle in Jenin during Israel’s War of Independence, whom he never got to know.

“I grew up hearing stories about him. We were in touch with the brigade and attended memorial events, and now it’s moving to serve in the same place he did,” Grossman said. “The people of the Carmeli Brigade, alongside whom I fight today, most of them are from the Golan Heights. Excellent individuals, each one of them. I salute them for their determination, dedication to the mission and readiness to continue until it is completed.”

‘I’ve Always Had a Longing for Israel’

Grossman is not the only septuagenarian enlisted for duty. Itzik Mishael, 71, arrived from Miami to Israel to join his reserve unit.

In 1966, when Mishael was 14, his family immigrated to the US. In 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Mishael was a fourth-year business administration student. Without hesitation, he left everything behind and came to Israel to enlist.

“I arrived as a lone soldier straight to basic training in Rafah,” Mishael recalled. “From there, I moved to the Julis base and later deployed to the Sinai with the 500th Brigade. I served on the front line there for eight months, and then continued to a tank commanders’ course.”

“[Today] my entire family lives in Miami,” he said. “After October 7, I felt a strong need to return to my homeland, enlist in my battalion and assist in any way possible.

“It was important for me to physically come to Israel and volunteer to assist my battalion on the Golan Heights, to be in the field with the soldiers. Fortunately, they accepted me, and there I do all sorts of logistical work. Assisting gives me great satisfaction and pride.

“Now, I plan to return for a short visit to Miami, but not to end my reserve duty. I’ll be back to enlist soon, I promise. As long as the war continues in Israel, I’ll keep coming back to contribute my small part. At the same time, when I return to Miami, I’ll continue to raise donations to purchase essential equipment for the soldiers of the battalion. Even when I return to my residence in Miami, my heart remains here.”

Posted on March 27, 2024

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on March 25, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit/

Photo License: Wikimedia