Gideon Pick was my uncle. I never met him; he was killed in action before I was born. This article is in his honor.
Gideon Pick (August 7, 1937 – October 10, 1956) was born in Jerusalem. As a teenager, he participated in Israel’s Independence war as a runner between fighting positions, and as a projector guard. In 1955 he volunteered to the IDF’s elite paratroopers unit and was accepted to its special patrol unit after graduating with honors from the non-commissioned officers’ school. On October 9th , 1955, two workers were killed by terrorists in an orange grove near Even Yehuda. The ears of the workers were cut off by the terrorists. The terrorists came from and returned back to Jordan. In retaliation, Moshe Dayan ordered the paratroopers brigade, led by Ariel Sharon, to destroy the heavily fortified Jordanian police station in Qualqilya. Gideon’s patrol unit was assigned to block the road east of Qualqilya in order to stop Jordanian reinforcement forces from reaching the police station. Gideon’s unit was deep in enemy territory, isolated, and far from the main IDF forces. The unit was engaged in a heavy battle with the Jordanians. Gideon was killed in action after carrying to safety on his back two injured friends. He was killed while carrying to safety a third person, his badly injured commander. He was 19 years old.
This is the last letter from Gideon to his girlfriend Pnina. He wrote the letter just before going to battle. Pnina received the letter one week after his death.
What should I write you?
A day before my friend Meir Har Zion* was injured he asked me to sit next to him at dinner. He told me that I’m one of the few in the unit that did not miss any violent patrol or violent reprisal activity. Today, the medic removed from my body fragments of hand grenade from the chase after the terrorists.
Davidi and Elisha (Elisha is the one who shook your hand in the non-commission officers graduation party), asked me to talk to you about going to officers’ school. The conversation drifted and we brought up memories of friends from the unit and from the battalion who were killed recently. Meir told us that some of them told him, a day or two before they were killed, that they had a strange feeling that the next battle will not end well for them. Tomorrow we are starting a two days road march in the Negev.
While I’m sitting in the snack bar and writing to you, Roni Fishbein** tells me that he was in the brigade’s office and one of the clerks told him that two workers were murdered in Even Yehuda, that the tracks lead to Jordan, and that in his opinion, another reprisal operation will begin soon.
I don’t know why but I have a strange feeling that my guardian angel had decided that he protected me long enough. The wound in my hand from the incident with the Syrians hasn’t healed yet but I have no intention to go to the clinic.
Pnina, I think that it is very strange that lately 18-19 years old teenagers talk about death. It is probably because we had many casualties in recent operations.
Pnina, enough talking about death; you don’t know how lucky I was after our meeting the night before yesterday. Heavy rain began after few minutes of walking on the road to Gdera. I began running to find a shelter when I heard car breaks and then I hear Elisha yelling from a jeep;
“Well Gideon, get in into the jeep. I’m wet already as it is.”
He dropped me off at the entrance to the barracks. Off course, during the ride, he did not stop talking about officers’ school. I told him that although I have more than a year to complete the service, and because my parents’ health is getting worth, I don’t think about a professional military career but that I’ll always be available for any activity that I’ll be needed for. We agreed to continue talking.
Pnina, I don’t know why, I feel like writing you a long letter, but exactly now, Dubik from Hugla comes in into the snack bar and tells me that I need to go immediately to a staff meeting. I’ll ask him to give the letter to the clerk.
Love you and miss you forever,
* Meir Har-Zion is a former Israeli military commando. As a key member of Unit 101, he was highly praised by Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan who described him as “the finest of our commando soldiers, the best soldier ever to emerge in the IDF”.
** Roni Fishbein was Gideon’s friend from the same village, Herut. Roni was killed in battle few weeks later on October 31, 1956 in the Mitle battle in the Sinai desert during 1956 Suez operation. He was 19 years old.
Left: Gideon Pick Center: Gideon Pick and teammates Right: The memorial for the Qualqilya operation
Left: Roni Fishbein Center: Meir Har Zion Right: Gideon’s grave in Tel Mond cemetery in Israel
Michael (Micha) Pick is Gideon’s younger brother. Michael is holding a Torah that was dedicated to Herut’s fallen heroes on May 28,2015. Herut (freedom) was the village were Gideon grew up. Michael followed Gideon and joined the paratroopers. He fought, in defense of Israel, in the 1967 Six Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and many other military conflicts. In 1982, I ran into Michael deep in Lebanon, during the 1st Lebanon war. He was 20 years older than me, but was still a reserve combat paratrooper defending Israel from terrorist attacks.
In the background is the memorial for the fallen heroes in Herut.