Sgt Yossi Rettig

Sgt Yossi Rettig

Uriel, my brother, we know each from the first day, when we were inducted into the army together. We did the course together and we continued together to the tank commander’s course. And we barely had time to say goodbye to our parents after the ceremony in La’trun when we were already operating commanders.

Uriel, I still see you with the blue gemara booklet, learning daf yomi consistently, every day. Every day! Soon there’ll be basic training, in between target practice. Uriel, I still feel your friendly slap on my back, and I’d turn around and see before me a big smile, and you asking me: what’s up? Everything okay? Uriel, I still hear you humming your favorite song: “Lecha Hashem Hagedula” while you’re finishing up the basics training material on the foldup army cot. When we were still in the field this week. Uriel, I was still trying to pass you running, and not succeeding.

Uriel, I still remember that you told me to take my tefilin to the tank, you described to me how it is to put on tefillin with the first rays of the sun, while the engineering corps tear down the bridge. Uriel, I listened to you. In our last exercise, while the engineering corps was laying out the bridge and unit 3 started to go over it, I put on tefillin and prayed.

Uriel, the words from the two-way radio “Hold fire, tank 3a turned over,” still echo in my ears. The world turned over. We didn’t think for a minute that this was how it was going to end. We also didn’t think so when Ido brought all the company together and told us that Uriel was killed. Only then did we understand the danger, the bravery, the self sacrifice needed to protect our state, our country. But you knew what was demanded of a commander. How devoted you were, how much you invested in the tank and didn’t go to sleep until the signposts were ready. During  exercises and training you sat with Bashan, the platoon commander, until you knew that you were prepared. How much effort you invested in the soldiers, in your team, in the good atmosphere you created. Calmly, in private conversations. Just as if we were your kids. Still your kids.

But Uriel, I won’t get angry next tie people get mixed up and call me Uriel by mistake. On the contrary. Maybe I have a big smile like Uriel; maybe I’m also happy, loving, calming. Maybe I’m also such a professional commander. Giving, helping, concerned about his soldiers.  like Uriel.

Uriel, you have us, the soldiers,,the company, frends, so many in such a short time. Thank you Uriel, for your character, your attributes, your good qualities. We will take them with us and continue with you. That’s it. You’re part of us. Of the big family, growing and expanding.