In a field next to the Gaza border a commander checks in with his tank team.
He asks us to identify him as a Major Shraga.
Shraga is a 38-year-old Israeli American who commands 500 infantrymen and the heavy armor and big guns that protect them.
Shraga gave Scripps News rare access to his Jerusalem Wolves battalion as they prepared to fight.
MAJOR SHRAGA: Infantry, that usually means going forward first. Yes, front line. Door to door. I'm sure that Hamas has a lot of surprises waiting for us, a lot of underground tunnels, a lot of booby traps, snipers as well and we're prepared for that.
SCRIPPS NEWS' JASON BELLINI: Are you nervous about going in?
SHRAGA: Well, you know, it'd be foolish to tell you that as a man standing before a war that there's no fear. Of course there's some fear, but it's manageable. And we trained for this and prepared for this. I do live in Chicago, but this is home for me as well.
On Oct. 7, Shraga was home in Chicago, where he works in finance, watching on television the horror unfolding as Hamas terrorists massacred and kidnapped civilians and Israeli soldiers.
"I packed up my suitcase and within an hour I was in the airport and got on the first flight back to Israel," Shraga said. "Sunday afternoon, I was already here with my reserve unit at the battlefield."
That battlefield was still strewn with bodies when he arrived.
SHRAGA: I have a little over 500 soldiers here. And we're all shocked by what we've seen. In the past few days we've been collecting bodies of our own, and seen many bodies of Hamas terrorists as well.
The major has been on reserve duty with the Israel Defense Forces since 2004. He's come back here to fight before. In 2016 in the West Bank, a Palestinian militant attacked him with a knife.
BELLINI: You've already been injured once.
BELLINI: Pretty severely.
SHRAGA: Yeah, I was really close to death. Yeah, very close to death. I was stabbed right in my chest by a terrorist that jumped me from behind in the West Bank.
BELLINI: But you're still back out here.
SHRAGA: I really feel like we have no other choice.
No other choice to make sure Oct. 7 never happens again.
"I don't know one out of my whole 500-people brigade that is bloodthirsty," Shraga said. "All the troops that you're seeing around here, we are the promise that never again, never again, Jews would be slaughtered unprotected. So whatever it takes, and whatever it means, we're gonna get our job done."
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