45 years ago – Yom Kippur War launched against Israel
I remember the feeling of helplessness, and the near panic in the community because there was nothing we could do.
Today is the 45th Anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
We have covered the war in several prior posts, including in an extensive post in 2015, Yom Kippur War – October 6, 1973:
There are certain events when you just remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.
I was on stage for a third-grade practice of a school play when a teacher walked into the room (the gym, which also was the school theater and lunch room) and told everyone that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed. We were sent home early.
I was at my desk using AOL to access the internet (!) when early reports came in of a “small plane” hitting the World Trade Center. And you know the rest.
And on October 6, 1973, I woke up expecting to go to Temple for the Yom Kippur holiday. I turned on my clock radio, the old style that had the metal flaps that flipped to change the time. And I heard that Israel had been invaded in what would become known as the Yom Kippur War. The rest of the day is a blur, I don’t even remember if we went to Temple. I remember the feeling of helplessness, and the near panic in the community because there was nothing we could do.
In that post I included numerous images and videos of the fighting, including the famous battle for the Golan Heights in which a small group of Israeli tanks held off a Syrian armored force a hundred times their size. At I noted in that post, The Heights of Courage (available for free online) by Avigdor Kahalani tells the story of the battle from the view of a participant. The battle also is the focus of the Prologue to Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears:
At the end of this day the troopers of the Barak and the 7th heard over their unit radio nets a message from Israeli Defense Forces High Command.
YOU HAVE SAVED THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.
And so they had. Yet outside Israel, except for schools in which men learn the profession of arms, this epic battle is strangely unremembered. As in the Six Day War of 1967, the more freewheeling operations in the Sinai were the ones that attracted the excitement and admiration of the world: bridging the Suez, the Battle of the ‘Chinese’ Farm, the encirclement of the Egyptian 3rd Army – this despite the fearful implications of the Golan fighting, which was far closer to home. Still, the survivors of those two brigades knew what they had done, and their officers could revel in the knowledge that among professional soldiers who know the measure of skill and courage that such a stand entails, their Battle for the Heights would be remembered with Thermopylae, Bastogne and Gloucester Hill.
I visited those Golan battlefields in 2013, On the Golan Heights – The Battle of Tel Saki. And On the Golan Heights – The Valley of Tears . I never visited the battlefields in the Sinai, but we covered those battles when Ariel Sharon died, including the crossing of the Suez Canal:
In the years after the 1967 war, Israel was considered invincible. The 1973 invasion proved that Israel is always just one attack away from the abyss. That, together with the brutal suicide bombing of the 2nd Intifada starting in 2001, are why Israel understands the importance of strategic depth even in the age of missiles.
My take after spending time in Samaria is the take I still have:
Location, location, location. It’s the high ground, stupid.
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I was alerted and left home the second day of the war and didn’t return home until 5 days after the fighting stopped. Flying support for Israel in and out of Tel Aviv with the USAF. Some of the proudest days of my life in that we were able to help Israel and those fighting for her.
You were part of Operation “Nickel Grass?” I was just reading about it on Wikipedia.
These U.S. airlift operations never seem to get the attention that they deserve.
Thank you for your service on behalf of our freedom and that of our allies.
I just got back last week from a 25 day trip to Israel. Stayed on an Israeli Air Force base and did construction work with them. Was there for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. During my stay I realized how serious the Israelis are with their defense. How they are fighting everyday to keep their citizens safe. I saw their F-15s and F-16s taking off the day they bombed sites in Syria and Syria shot the Russians down. I saw their iron dome radar sites pointing towards Gaza. I saw the wall around the West Bank that actually works. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Israel. My TDY certainly bolstered that respect.
I don’t want to unduly pry or appear ill-informed, but, can I ask how you got on this construction project?
Are you an active U.S. servicemember? Or, was this a private-sector project? Or, civilian volunteer work?
I’m genuinely curious how you were able to participate in this project. Thank you for indulging my curiosity.
I am in a US military construction unit. We are building a compound on an Israeli base that Americans use every year for a multinational exercise.
I remember my father waking me up with the news that Israel was at war and we needed to say Psalms. And teachers interrupting class at the top of every hour for the next few weeks, so we could hear the radio news.
And, unless I’m mistaken in my history reading, European nations shamefully refused to provide Israel with military supplies, during the ’73 War. Happy to see the Arabs destroy Israel, I suppose.
Was this simply a craven calculus of self-interest, based on a need for Arab oil? Plus, perhaps, the usual latent European anti-Semitism?
Somewhat ironic, almost fifty years later, that Israel has the gumption to stand up to Islamic supremacism and totalitarianism, while Europe has invited its own destruction, by inviting millions of Muslims to come to its shores, to destroy the fabric of secular democracy and the values of the Enlightenment.
Just finished Kahalani’s The Heights of Courage. Excellent!!
“I remember all of them … who fought like lions till morning dawned. I stand here alone and my heart is filled with a silent prayer: Let there be no more war.”
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