Vol. 11


Avi and the Sohoy-7

November 27, 1969; east of Ismailia, Egypt1

Avi Simon, my grandma’s cousin, was going through a lot when he was fourteen years old. In August 1962 his parents (survivors of the Holocaust) had just gotten divorced, and he and his mom moved to Israel from post–World War II Romania. Like all Israeli youth, Avi joined the Israeli army, the IDF.2 He started a few months after the Six-Day War.3 He graduated in 1968 as a second lieutenant, and was sent to the Suez Canal to command three tanks.

On November 27, 1969, it was a beautiful winter morning. The temperature was seventy-two degrees, and it was super-sunny as Avi’s tank was stationed across from Ismailia (an Egyptian town on the west side of the canal). Four Israeli soldiers started the day by covering the tank in a camouflage net. Avi was sitting in his tank, like always. Jean, the gunner, was sleeping. Katz was taking a shower, and Avi and Shmulick were playing an intense game of chess.

“You’ll never win,” Shmulick chanted. “I am a master at chess.”

“Don’t bet all your money on that,” Avi replied. “I think you’ll be surprised by my skills.”

That’s when the ground started rumbling. Everything on the ground was being tossed up. Avi looked up at the tremendously big Sohoy-7 flying in the sky.4 He felt like his heart was beating in his stomach. Avi looked around. No one moved. It seemed like Avi was the only one who knew what was going on. Avi jumped to the gun, ripped off the net around the turret, and as fast as he could, started ferociously shooting at the plane. Boom, crackle! Boom, crackle! Boom, crackle! Avi was scared to blink; he didn’t want to miss any sudden movements of the Sohoy-7. He shot and shot at the fuel tank. He watched as the bullets flew from his machine gun to the fuel tank. It was a direct hit! He had fired the whole chain of 250 bullets. At this point Katz was running toward the tank, naked from the shower, with an Uzi5 on his shoulder.

Avi froze, thinking again about what had just happened. He watched smoke come out of the plane and fill the air with a damp smell. The plane was down. Avi’s heart was still pounding from astonishment as the smoke diffused. Avi loosened his tight grip on the heavy machine gun and looked back at his tank buddies’ shocked faces. The look on Avi’s face told it all. They slowly began to realize what had just happened: Avi had just shot down a plane with a machine gun.6

This is an important story in my family, and it should be remembered, because it shows you what you can do when you trust your instinct and do what’s right for your country.

Tillie Yael Cohen; Colorado, USA


1. Israel had captured this land on the Sinai Peninsula in 1967, but returned control of the land to Egypt in 1982.

2. The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) include all military — ground, naval, and air forces.

3. In the Six-Day War, which took place between June 5 and 10, 1967, Israel fought against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.

4. “Sohoy-7” was a nickname that the soldiers gave to the Sukhoi Su-7, a fighter-bomber.

5. An Uzi (OO zee) is an Israeli gun that can fire bullets rapidly and continuously.

6. The author’s family reports that extensive ballistics examinations conducted by the Israeli Air Force confirmed that Avi’s machine gun had indeed shot down the plane.



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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