IAF pilot remembers the Yom Kippur War

IAF Website

Maj. Gen. Halutz recounts the first day when the Yom Kippur War broke out 38 years ago

Date: 06/10/2011, 11:30 AM     Author: IAF Website

Maj. Gen. Danny Halutz was a young reserves pilot when the Yom Kippur War broke out. Here is an excerpt Maj. Gen. Halutz wrote about the first day of the war, from the confusion in the morning to the first deployment in the afternoon.

On the morning of Yom Kippur, Saturday October 6th 1973, (the most solemn Jewish holiday observed with a 25-hours period of fasting and intensive prayer) I was woken up by the sound of a jet engine passing right over my house. Still sleepy, I assumed it was just another drill of the Anti-Aircraft Unit in Herzliya.

Then I realized that on Yom Kippur there wouldn’t be any drills today. Out the window I saw a Skyhawk circling Herzliya at a low altitude. “Something is up”, I said to my wife, Irit. I got dressed and decide to go to a near pay phone to check what’s going on.

A call from the lobby stopped me. “Who is it?” I asked. “It’s Shmueli. I came to take you to the base”.

Shmueli is a young navigator at the squadron, and he was sent to pick me up. “What happened? Why? For how long?” these questions remain unanswered. We boarded the car, dropped Irit off at her parent’s house in Tel-Aviv, and raced to the base.

The traffic on the road was sparse, yet I could feel that something is going on. I began to realize that things are much more serious than I thought. We were all convinced that it was a local incident – a day battle or something of the sort.

Everyone gathered at the squadron. We had very little knowledge of what was actually going on, though we understood that the government is currently discussing the possibility of attacking Syrian airports. We nervously sipped our coffee and smoked cigarette after cigarette.

Ronny Huldai, Deputy Squadron Commander began briefing us on the Syrian airports. Half an hour before the scheduled takeoff we received a message to abort the mission completely. The government did not approve.

All of a sudden the alarm goes off. It signals a bombardment attack is on its way to Israel. This time it is real. The war begins.