On the IDF Memorial Day, I thought it would be appropriate to remember the three most senior officers who fell in Israel’s wars.
General David (Mickey Stone) Marcus was the IDF’s first General. He was born in the US and studied in the West Point military academy. After he left the US army as an artillery captain he studied law and served as a lawyer in New York City where he assisted the mayors in their fight against crime. In 1940 he re-joined the US army. He was sent to England to prepare the future civil administration in Europe after the fall of the Nazis, but in an unclear way joined the forces that were parachuted into France during the invasion of Normandy and took active part in fighting the German forces carrying out several acts of bravery for which he was decorated. Towards the time of Israel’s Independence War, Marcus was recruited by e messenger of David Ben Gurion to help transforming the ‘Hagana’ defence organisation, which lacked senior command, into a regular army. He arrived in Israel, was appointed commander of the Jerusalem front and under his command the Burma Way was built, which broke the Arab siege on the city. His arrival and conduct completely transformed the depressed mood of the Israeli forces that were fighting in the area. David Marcus was shot and killed by mistake by a sentry when he returned to his command post in Abu Gosh late at night and answered in English calls to stop and a warning shot. May he rest in peace.
General Avraham (Albert) Mendler was born in Austria and arrived in Israel on an immigrants’ ship as a child. During the Independence War he commanded the ‘Samson’s Foxes’ jeep unit. He converted to armour and during the Six Days War commanded an armoured brigade that fought first in the Sinai and later was transferred to the north and took part in the liberation of the Golan Heights from Syrian occupation. After the attrition war Avraham Mendler was appointed commander of an armoured division in the Sinai, a role he was due to leave on October 8th 1973. Two day before that day, the Yom Kippur War broke out and the change of roles was postponed. General Avraham Mendler, his chief of staff and a few other soldiers were killed when his armoured command carrier was hit in an ambush of Sager missiles when he was observing Egyptian forces in the southern sector of the Suez Canal. One theory was that that his presence in the area was exposed to the Egyptians after he reported his position on radio using a coded map that probably fell into their hands before the war. May he rest in peace.
General Yekutiel (Kuti) Adam was born in Tel Aviv. He was a member of the ‘Hagana’ and took part in the Independence War and the Sinai campaign. During the Six Days War he commanded a brigade in the Sinai front and after the war was appointed commander of the Golani brigade. As chief of staff of the northern command he was seconded to the Mossad for the first time. During the Yom Kippur War he returned to his post and commanded the operation to liberate Mount Hermon towards the end of the war. After serving as a division commander and as the General of the Southern Command, he was appointed head of the IDF operations division and later deputy chief of staff and took part in the planning of the Entebbe operation and the attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor. In 1982 he was designated to head the Mossad. During the first Lebanon war he visited the battlefront area with Lieutenant Colonel Chaim Sela. When terrorists bombarded the area they were observing from the roof of a building, the officers went down into the building’s cellar and were killed by shots fired by terrorists who were hiding there. I knew General Yekutiel Adam personally and met him many times on different occasions. I saw him for the last time one day before he was killed, inside a northern command centre fortified with Basalt stone. His face were lit by the light of the map table’s lamp, he was quiet and concentrated and had the same peaceful and reassuring expression I always saw on his face. May he rest in peace.
A Clarification After writing and publishing this article earlier this morning, I noticed that an Israeli news website also dedicated an article to General David Marcus. Again – this was a complete coincidence. I did not see the mentioned article before I published mine.