In preparation for the ceremony, the medal recipients were called up one-by-one by name to the stage, and where the medal was awarded posthumously - the recipient’s next-of- kin stepped up to receive it. When Yair’s name was called out, I informed the officer who officiated as the Master of Ceremonies (MC), that Zvi would be the family representative, and as he would be sitting in his wheelchair in the audience, the Chief of Staff would need come down to him. The young MC was quite shocked from this change in protocol, and told me that “it won’t work” and that the family should designate someone else to ascend the stage. I observed that one of the GHQ Generals was in the hall, so I sent him to seek approval.
On his return to me (with somewhat of a puzzled look on his face), I asked him what did the General say, to which he answered: “For Zvi – the Chief of Staff will go down to wherever he will be”
Aba sat on his chair in the aisle next to me, and as can be seen from the picture he was very much in a different world.
After I was called up to receive my own medal, I returned to my seat but first handed it to Aba who gave me a small pat on the hand and said softly: “it is good that you went up yourself to receive it, so that Mota did not need to come down twice to me…”
Zvi receives Irie's Citation
Military Exemplary Medal
Yair was posthumously awarded the Military Exemplary Gallantry Medal by the I.D.F. Chief of Staff General Mordechai Gur, in a very moving ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the medal recipients, their family members, and when awarded posthumously - the recipient’s next of kin.
As cited below, the medal was awarded to Yair for his acts under fire, one of which was when he rushed to help one of his soldiers who was in-the-open outside of his hit tank.
Danny Gur (Georgie) (Yair’s second in command), described it as follows: “From all of the company soldiers, only two decided not to break the Yom Kippur fast: Yair and Danny Vachnun. I do not want to go down the path of perhaps unwarranted symbolism, but both of them were later killed. What was more chilling was that Yair was killed while extending his hand to pull Danny to safety unto his tank”. Danny Vachnun was later killed in a Syrian artillery bombardment at Tel Mari.