In the IDF, ‘Lonely Soldier‘ is a term that describes soldiers serving on active duty who have no family is Israel. These are volunteers that came to serve for 3-5 years. They typically go back to their respective countries upon completion. Most commonly, these are people who immigrated to Israel by themselves. I was one of them.
While in Israel, I lived in an apartment building where the majority of people were lonely soldiers. It was located on the outer ring of Jerusalem, surrounded by four Arab villages. My roommates were two recon guys (like me) and one who worked in field intel. All of the other inhabitants were soldiers from various units, with most of them serving a combat role. It was a well known thing, especially to the Arabs in the village. Most of the time we wouldn’t be there, but when we were on leave, we would come to the apartment for a little R&R. It was rare that the four of us were there at the same time, but once in a blue moon, it did happen.
Each village had, as is customary, its own mosque. When the time for prayer came, the loudspeakers would call out to the faithful. It was OK, we were used to it. However, over the weekend they would make it a point to play the call to prayer very, and I mean VERY, loud. They knew soldiers would be in the building trying to get some sleep – recovering from several weeks in the field. This always annoyed me but there was nothing I could do.
On this particular weekend, after an intense seven weeks of non-stop ops, all I wanted was to go to the apartment, sleep, eat, sleep some more and then sleep again. That weekend the four of us were at the apartment and we were all equally tired. We arrived Thursday night and after a small dinner and some beers, we went to sleep. At 0400 we all jumped….
The freaking loudspeakers at all four mosques began their call to prayer at full blast. Fuck….
We spent the remainder of the day trying to rest and every time we would fall asleep, again… The call for prayers, full blast! Over lunch, we all looked at each other and knew this had to stop. We came up with a plan. I know it wasn’t nice, but at that point we couldn’t care less about political correctness. Here’s what we did.
After some recon that night, we noticed that the call to prayer wasn’t performed by an Imam or some other person with a microphone. It was a tape recorder that used a tape. We figured the four of us, experts in stealthy infils, could sneak in and steal those tapes. However, while we were planning the different infil routes for each village, we all smiled and did something better. We recorded Metallica’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls‘ on repeat on all four tapes and then waited till midnight.
At midnight, each one of us – armed with a Metallica tape – headed to a different village. All dressed in black, we were careful not to be seen. We entered into the buildings and exchanged the tapes. We rallied back to the exfil point, a crossroad not far from the last village and headed back to our apartment. And then we waited…
At 0350 we went to the roof with some coffee, opened some field chairs and waited for the show to begin. At 0400 sharp the first “call” came alive, full volume:
Make his fight
On the hill in the early day
Constant chill deep inside
Take a look
To the sky
Just before you die
It’s the last time he will
Followed by the next, then the 3rd and 4th joined in. Full volume Metallica!
Soon after, we heard sirens headed to the villages. I don’t know what happened after that, but we had our own private concert, right there.
No shit, there I was… Metallica call to prayer