One Last Salute to Gen. Doron Rubin, a hero of the Yom Kippur War

Words of Farewell to Major General Doron Rubin

By Maj. Gen. Doron Almog

The earth shook on Yom Kippur, Shabbat, October 6, 1973. The Hermon Post was captured; Syrian tanks swept over the Golan Heights; the Bar Lev Line along the Suez Canal collapsed; rumors were flying that Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was talking about an existential danger to the State of Israel.

The war landed on us like a thunderstorm on a clear day.

The State of Israel owes the victory of the Yom Kippur War to the field fighters and commanders on the first front – those who were first to recover, who initiated, improvised, built up forces from nothing, and who drew hundreds of soldiers to follow after them with courage, daring, and extraordinary personal example.

Doron Rubin was our battalion commander; commander of the 202nd paratroop battalion – the battalion that stopped an Egyptian division.

Doron was the one who led us from feelings of confusion and surprise to one of the greatest victories that occurred during the Yom Kippur War.

During our briefing, Major General Albert Mandler told Battalion Commander Doron Rubin: “Go to the Yoreh axis, put things in order and try to reach the Nave – Yoreh junction”.

On October 13, Major General Mandler was killed.  He was a friend of my parents.  The task he had given us, we carried out to the very end.

That same night, Doron Rubin commanded me to set out on an observation mission, north of WADI Mahbuk, to secure the defensive branch system that we had built thanks to Doron’s wise tactical understanding. The next day, October 14, the Egyptians began an offense along the entire front. Close to 200 Egyptian tanks attacked Battalion 202 in the WADI Mahbuk and Naveh – Yoreh Junction areas.

And we, the 202nd Battalion of paratroopers, had only a few tanks, recoilless Guns, bazookas and anti-tank weapons. Doron and I were about 20 kilometers apart from each other, speaking and planning by two-way rADIo. We agreed that there would be no retreat. We would fight fiercely. To the end.

During the battle, I could hear Doron through the rADIo, calmly giving orders to a group of commanders. Trying to get the maximum out of each one. Sending Rali with recoilless Guns and Eitan Yedid Halevy with three tanks to the northern area, over the cliffs of WADI Mahbuk. The commands to Avi Malka, Ofer Karniel, Shlomo Freedman, Zev Zacharin, Yisrael Meir, Shabtai, Mirzah . . .

After a few hours of intense fighting, tens of Egyptian tanks were aflame and the Egyptian battalion had begun a mass retreat back to the Suez Canal. Two regiments of Egyptian tanks were burnt in the 202 battalion area and other regiment of Egyptian tanks was burnt further north, within WADI Mahbuk.

Doron was always proud of the way we fought on October 14. He was proud of the battle we fought in ranges of several hundred meters with so little anti-tank weapons, but with courage, determination, deliberation, while employing the best fighting tactics and the various weapons at our disposal.

Doron was always proud of the group of commanders and soldiers with whom he fought, and with whom he stayed in touch until his final days.

After the battle of October 14, Doron wanted to hug each and every one of us. Yesterday, after I was told about his passing, I remembered that at the end of that same battle he asked my officers, Yigael Orbach and Yossi Yarden, to draw captain’s strips on my shoulder. It was a bizarre scene: a group of paratroopers fighting to defend the country; the war still going strong. There was no guarantee that we would survive the next few hours, yet Doron, with great love and infinite compassion, wanted to say, in his way – I love you and I appreciate your heroism, my fellow soldiers.

And we fought many more battles together, side by side. In Mazra’at Beit Jann in the Syrian enclave, at the Hermon Peak, in Syria, and in Lebanon during the raids which we launched against the terrorist objectives, when we carried the bodies of Captain Muki Knishbach and Sergeant Zion Chachmon z”l on our shoulders.

During all the difficult battles we went through together, we always admired Doron’s courage, personal example, professionalism, compassion, resourcefulness and sharp situation analysis. He taught us to make internal debriefings with truth and integrity; he taught us the importance of a truthful investigation, which would be studied and learned from by paratroopers and young soldiers in the IDF for generations to come.

Doron Rubin was one of the best field soldiers the IDF had: a brave fighter, a personal example, fierce, and with excellent operational ability. He was always at the head of his men, and he always took care of their needs. He was a true hero. Thorough, analytic, professional, demanding the maximum from himself, his commanders and his soldiers.

Doron taught and trained hundreds of officers and soldiers. He was always the subject of admiration and respect. The IDF was the apple of his eye. The abrupt end of his army service was a tragedy for him. Doron spent his last years writing a book of his thoughts and ideas that would be a legacy to IDF officers and soldiers; his understanding of leadership and the trials under fire that he led. This book is the personal testament that he sought to leave for the IDF’s officers and soldiers.

We, who were under his command and who followed him in the battlefield, owe him a great debt. Doron Rubin was our war hero. He is etched in our hearts forever, and his actions join the glorious annals that make up the history of the State of Israel.

The extended Rubin family: Hagar, who we knew in our youth and who was an integral part of his life and our lives; his sons Nir, Ziv, Naveh – named after the junction where we fought in the Yom Kippur War – and Barak, and his sister, Bruria; his daughters-in-law and his beloved grandchildren, to whom Doron also imparted the love of the Land of Israel and of humanity – we hug you today, and together we salute our beloved commander, Doron Rubin.

May the memory and legacy of Doron Rubin be a source of inspiration to all IDF commanders for eternity.

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