This week, we've been remembering the Second Lebanon War, Israel's conflict with Hezbollah that began ten years ago. Today, The Times of Israel's Judah Ari Gross shares remembrances from three brave IDF soldiers who were cited for their lifesaving actions during the bitter war:
Some 30,000 IDF soldiers took part in the fighting, and of those tens of thousands, 145 earned medals of honor or citations from their commanders for bravery.
A decade after the start of the war, The Times of Israel spoke with three of those distinguished veterans — Maj. Ariel Barbi, Staff Sgt. (res.) Steven Wailand and Maj. Dani — about how they kept their cool under fire, pushed themselves to the physical limit, and what it means to be a bona fide war hero...
Staff Sgt. Steven Wailand né Friedland was born in Houston, Texas, but at the age of ten, he and his family made the move to Jerusalem.
After high school, he joined the army and entered a 13-month paramedic training course. In 2006, he was responsible for the 401st Armored Brigade’s medical training, but towards the middle of the war his expertise as a paramedic was needed by the brigade’s reconnaissance company.
He was partnered with Staff Sgt. Itay Steinberger, who acted as both his “liaison” to the unit and was also responsible for protecting him, Wailand said...
Wailand dropped down on one knee, as his partner Steinberger, a budding photographer and poet, stood over him.
“The next thing I heard was a whistle, and I saw Itay get hit by something — the missile — and fall. I started checking Itay and saw that he had a very, very weak pulse and had lost a lot of blood,” Wailand said.
“My commander said if we didn’t get out of there right now, we were all going to die. I told them to put him on the stretcher, but by the time we did, he had already passed,” he said.
“Itay basically saved my life.”
That personal loss was just the prelude to “hell on earth,” Wailand said. “It was one of the worst days of my life..."