My name is Oz Gino, I am 29 years old and a major in the IDF’s Search and Rescue unit. I was born and raised in Metulla, a city on the Lebanon border.
I was drafted to the paratroopers in 2005 and was sent to a training course to become a combat medic. After my course, I participated in the Second Lebanon war. I was stationed very close to my hometown. I felt like I was personally protecting my home and family.
After the war, I became an officer and was assigned as a platoon commander. A year later I joined a fighting regiment of the Home Front Command, our main task is to address rockets falling during operations within Israel’s borders, secure the area, and make sure there are no civilians in the vicinity. I continued to progress within the unit, first as a battalion operations officer and finally a company commander. During this time I began undergraduate studies at IDC Herzliya in politics and diplomacy. About a month ago I finished my first degree and returned to the IDF.
Upon my return to my company, we were stationed in Nabulus, known in the IDF as the “terror city.” My job is very complicated. I am in charge of 85 soldiers and their safety. Nabulus is a very dangerous and tumultuous area. These soldiers are given a huge burden to carry and it is my job to find solutions to any outside distractions which could influence their performance and jeopardize their safety or the safety of the soldier standing next to them. They must worry about the task at hand and I must worry about them. To serve as an officer in the IDF it is more than being just a commander, it means that on a daily basis when they are away from their families– you assume the role of the father, mother, brother, and friend.
My decision to continue my career in the military was very much influenced by the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. I witnessed the pain of my sister who lost her boyfriend in that incident, Lieutenant Hanan Barak Z”L. This reminds me every day how important it is to keep my soldiers safe.
But as Jews we must not ignore when others are in need. In Aril 2015, the IDF search and rescue teams were sent to Nepal to assist in the disaster zone from the earthquake that hit that country. When we landed and deplaned, I looked up and saw the Israeli Air Force planes with the huge star of David painted on the sides announcing that Israel was there to help, because as written in the medical oath for the IDF Medical Corps: “Lend a helping hand to all injured, whether friend or foe.”