Fought as a Combat Medic in the Independence War
Her Story Encompasses the History of the Airbase
“This Woman Saved Me”
Halela with one of the Pilots of the Airbase An 85-year-old woman stands in the hanger of F-15 Eagles, gazing intently at one with her blue eyes. Halela Tal is standing at the exact spot where she stood 64 years ago, in the midst of the Israeli Independence War as a combat medic in the ‘Givati’ Brigade
Yael Harari and Dana Rusou
Halela Tal has been dreaming of returning to the “Tel Nof” airbase for a very long time. There, she says–her personality was formed as she served as a combat medic in the Independence War. Close by, in her family vineyard in ‘Carmey Yossef” she got the opportunity to make her dream come true and return for a visit.
Recently, a customer came by to buy a bottle of wine. Halela began conversing with the visitor and soon realized that she was talking with an IAF Official, Major General Yohanan Locker. He was very interested with her story about how she and friends saved an airbase from occupation. Halela got the courage to ask Major General Locker for her ‘return to the base’ wish and her face was lit up when he promised: “Consider it done”.
Tel Nof Comes First
As the British left Tel Nof airbase, Halela was with her battalion friends who were amongthe first Jewish fighters to enter the base. Members of the battalion were young Israeli natives who tried to prevent the looting of nearby Arabic villages. They constructed an improvised hospital around the base, and were sent into the most crucial operations of the Independence War. “It was all very different”, Halela laughs. “We didn’t have uniforms; we all wore whatever we got from the Americans. We found a special place for the gun in our pants, and we didn’t have any equipment either. When we established the hospital I had to take my own equipment from my uncle who was a retired doctor”.
Since, those soldiers in US military garb have gone their own ways, and the base, which became an IAF airbase, received soldiers in beige colored uniforms and overalls. The years have passed and the Independence War has long been over. Meanwhile, Halela has managed to visit many of the places where she once fought, except for the one closest to her, ‘Tel Nof’ Airbase.
“This Woman Saved Me”
But it is never too late. 64 years later, Halela is sitting in the conference room in ‘Tel Nof’ Airbase, telling Deputy Commander of the base and representatives of the IAF and ‘Givati Brigade’ her story. Her words paint the history of the base, and manage to surprise the avid listeners. The biggest surprise was actually planned for the lady herself. During the conversation, the door opened and two old friends walked in. “This woman saved me”, said one of them as he walked towards her. “She took care of me when I was wounded during the battle.”
“We’ll now be taking you outside for a little tour around the base you used to defend”, said the IAF museum treasurer, Avi Moshe Segal while signaling the three to walk behind him. Together they walked around the base, beginning at the ‘shell’ point, and moving on to the various plane hangars which are still standing as they were back in the day. “I feel very grateful to have been born in this country and be given the opportunity to take part in historical wars”, Halela says as she leans on the F-15. “It structured my entire personality, more than absolutely anything else in my life”