Eran Kahlon bears scars on his face and back caused by shrapnel from a misfired mortar shell that nearly killed him on the Gaza Border in January 2011.

Kahlon also bears three stripes on his uniform that show how he overcame his injuries to become Capt. of the Paratroopers’ 202nd Battalion.

Kahlon will start his service as captain and is receiving his first class of recruits Thursday.

Kahlon, who is 26, says he remained motivated during his recovery because he always aspired to be a captain.

But, to Kahlon, becoming a captain represents becoming a mentor, especially if it saves lives and prevents accidents like his from occurring in the future.

Kahlon was injured in January 2011 while his battalion engaged three terrorists attempting to break through the Gaza border. A mortar shell backfired, critically wounding Kahlon and gravely injuring Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg.

As part of Kahlon’s recovery, he endured six months of rehabilitation that he referred to as “tough.”

Kahlon concedes it was more challenging convincing his family to support his dream of rejoining the army to become captain of his battalion.

Now that he is starting to fulfill his dream, Kahlon is excited to begin transforming his recruits into soldiers with the belief that it is just as important to ensure his recruits maintain their humanity as it is to mold them into fighters.

To realize this, Kahlon spent the last six months hand-picking platoon leaders and instructing them on how to train recruits so that his recruits remain compassionate as they become soldiers.

While Kahlon says his recruits must be expert shooters and athletic, he asserts it’s most important they remain “human.”

To accomplish this, Kahlon has asked his platoon leaders to imagine that they are recruits. How would it feel? How would they regard their superiors if they were recruits? Kahlon believes this will improve the character of his whole battalion.

In addition to guiding his platoon leaders, Kahlon acknowledges that his story of perseverance can affect his recruits, especially those losing motivation.

“If someone wants to quit, and it happens, I will take him to a small chat with me,” Kahlon says. “Maybe I will convince someone to be a paratrooper when in another world maybe he couldn’t be.”

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