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September 12, 2010

Great Sunday Read: 'The World's Best Soldier'

Topics: Human Interest, Middle East News and Perspectives

Here's a great read for your Sunday afternoon. It's a Ynet special via Yoni the Blogger on the fascinating story of Lieutenant Colonel Emanuel Morano. The operations Morano was involved in were so secretive and sophisticated that even today, four years after his death, censors ban the publication of his photographs. Hence, Lieutenant Colonel Morano is believed to be the only soldier in IDF history whose photo still cannot be published - even posthumously.

Ynetnews.com: The Worlds Best Soldier
Matan Zuri
Published: 09.12.10, 13:32 / Israel News

After several months in his presence, Maya Morano already got used to not always knowing where her husband Emanuel heads to every morning. Is he on his way to another secret operation, deep in enemy territory? Will he find himself under a barrage of bullets or face-to-face with a surprised terrorist in a few hours? Will he arrive home very late, almost never in uniform but with "the unit's" emblem above his left pocket, stepping gingerly as not to wake up the kids? Or will he again spend the night "there," involved in yet another operation that will likely never be publicized? One could only guess.

Maya knew well that she did not marry a nine-to-five man who proceeds to do the grocery shopping after leaving the office. Even today, most of Emanuel Morano's operations are unknown outside the defense establishment or are under a gag order. However, his name is whispered with great reverence within the "unit" and among his commanders. "The IDF's no. 1 fighter," senior officers referred to him. "The soul of Sayeret Matkal," his comrades say. Meanwhile, religious soldiers refer to him as "the man who followed in the footstep of legendary Jewish hero Bar Kochba."

The operations Morano was involved in were so secretive and sophisticated that even today, four years after his death, censors ban the publication of his photographs. Hence, Lieutenant Colonel Emanuel Morano is believed to be the only soldier in IDF history whose photo cannot be published even posthumously.

The elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit engages in the most sensitive, complex IDF activities; Morano's squad was tasked with the most sensitive, complex activities within the unit, and within this squad, "Morano was the best," his comrades say. "Emanuel led highly complex operational activity, among the most important carried out by the IDF," the unit commander says. "Their contribution to national security is significant. The challenges he faced during his service required rare professional abilities, focus and sharpness, and exceptional personal responsibility."

From France to Jerusalem
Only on rare occasions did Emanuel share the details of secret operations with his wife, Maya. One of these times took place when he proposed. They met three and a half months earlier and that day went on a hike in the Lachish region. While facing the stunning scenery, Emanuel suddenly grew silent. "He started stammering there," Maya says. "He then said: 'Ok, I'll do it the proper way,' and then he got down on his knees and asked me: 'Will you marry me?' I was very touched, and immediately said yes."

"We were both overjoyed but also embarrassed, because we were both religious and could not touch each other. We didn't quite know what to do. And then he told me about the Dirani abduction operation," she says. "He drew a map on the sand, where the house was and how it all happened. He told me the story in detail, from a very personal perspective ... Emanuel played a significant role in this operation, and actually sat there in the helicopter with Dirani."

Emanuel Morano was born in France in June 1971 and made Aliyah to Israel with his family when he was one-year-old. He grew up with his four brothers in Jerusalem, and while completing his high school studies he started the grueling trial period for Sayeret Matkal.

Morano was a member of the unit for 16 years. He was involved in numerous operations, always at the forefront. "During his service Emanuel became the fighter who took part in the greatest number of operations in the unit's history," a comrade says. "On more than one occasion, his level-headedness and courage made the difference between failure and yet another success story that shall remain classified. The squad commander once compared him to Bark Kochba, because we had not seen a fighter like him since." These operations face a sweeping gag order. Morano's own comrades in the unit are unfamiliar with some of them.

Continue reading ...

Posted by Richard at September 12, 2010 11:31 AM



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