The Apple doesn't parachute far from the tree

Israel's Lone Soldiers: Fifth in a series.

Lone Soldier 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lone Soldier 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In 1981, Yossi Flint stood in a line with his fellow soldiers from the 890th Battalion of the Paratroop Brigade during their swearing-in ceremony at the training base in the Negev. Afterward, he watched as all of the other soldiers ran to hug their parents and relatives.
A lone soldier from Glasgow, Scotland, Flint did not have anyone to hug. That is why 27 years later he flew here to attend his son Adam’s swearing-in ceremony to the 101st Battalion of the Paratroop Brigade.
“I had nobody when I was a lone soldier and promised myself that if I ever had a child, I would never allow him to stand alone at the ceremonies,” Yossi recalled this week in a conversation from his home in Glasgow.
Yossi continued to come and with each trip brought another piece of memorabilia with him. When Adam’s unit received the Paratroop Brigade’s trademark red beret, Yossi gave his 27-year-old beret to his son. When Adam’s unit finished the parachute course and received the trademark silver wings, Yossi flew here to pin his 27-year-old wings on his son’s uniform.
When Adam’s unit received the Paratrooper tag – a green snake with white wings – Yossi came to give his fading tag to his son.
Afterward, he decided to recreate the tag he had just given up and tattooed it onto his left shoulder where it once hung proudly.
“I did the tattoo to have a direct connection to Adam, since he was wearing my tag on his shoulder and I wanted to wear one on my shoulder as well,” the First Lebanon War veteran said.
Adam, 20, was born in Glasgow to Yossi and Smadar.
His parents met after Yossi completed his military service in 1984 and then returned to Scotland.
From a young age, Adam heard stories about the IDF.
He would march around the house wearing his father’s uniform and beret and played with toy M-16 rifles. According to Yossi, it was quite obvious that Adam was headed to the army.
“I heard from my father how the army builds you up as a person,” Adam said. “I see the difference today when I go back to Scotland and am with my friends...
The army changes you as a person because you have to be more mature, since when I am in Hebron going through narrow alleys I have to fear that something is going to be thrown at me. People my age in other places don’t have to worry about that.”
Adam specifically asked to serve in the Paratroop Brigade like his father. “The feeling that my father served there meant that I had to be there as well, and when I saw my friends falling out during the tryouts, I saw right past it and pushed my hardest, since there was no chance that I wasn’t going to make it,” he said.
Yossi is impressed by the way the army treats lone soldiers today. When he was in the IDF, he said, he spoke with his parents maybe twice a year. Nowadays, the army lets the lone soldiers fly home at least once a year and in some cases even covers the costs.
Adam, however, is hoping to break the chain of lone soldiers in the Flint family, and after his discharge in a year plans on staying here. When the time comes for his children to go into the army, they will do so with parents in the country.