Dallas – Date uncertain


In January 1997, Jonathan Zirkel was a newly appointed lieutenant in the Israeli army. He made it his business to know all the men in his unit. Off duty they had their own T-shirts… Zirkel’s unit.

Morale was strong despite regular attacks from Lebanon and difficult missions to chase down the sources of missiles launched on Northern Israeli settlements.

Only the previous week Zirkel had been a coffin bearer at the funeral of a friend killed in such a raid.

Now he was leading a patrol in Lebanon and out of nowhere they were ambushed. There was shooting, grenades exploded and Zirkel plus several others were wounded. The raiders disappeared.

When the medic arrived Zirkel immediately sent him off to see other colleagues who were also wounded. “They are hurt worse than me,” he said “and they need your help first.”

Within three hours Zirkel died of his injuries on the cold mountainside. Most of his colleagues survived, but two others also died.

His unit came to bury him on the kibbutz where he grew up, and they lamented a leader lost in his prime.

This story exemplifies leadership in a way I shall never forget.

Jonathan was my cousin.


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