Moshe Levy (L), as IDF Chief of Staff, 1980s, with Shimon Peres

General Moshe Levy, 72, the 12th Israeli Army Chief of Staff, died Jan. 9, 2008, after a brain aneurysm.

Levy had his first stroke a few years ago. Afterward, he had to use a wheelchair. He dropped many of his public activities, but continued in his position with the company that built Route 6, Israel’s newest and first privately managed superhighway, and the country’s only toll road.

Levy, known as “Moishe v’hetzi” (Moishe and a half”) because of his height, was the first chief of staff who began his career with the Israeli Army, and not with a different organization.

He was born in Tel Aviv, the son of a family that moved to Israel from Iraq. He went to the Bialik School and City High School 1. He went into a combat unit in 1954.first with the Golani Brigade and then in the paratroopers.

Levi fought in the Sinai Campaign of 1956 and was a standout officer in the War of Attrition with Egypt beginning in 1970. He also was a Civil Defense officer and deputy Chief of Staff.

Levy receiving his Chief of Staff from Menachem Begin (R) and Moshe Arens

He became Army Chief of Staff in 1983 and served his full four-year term. During his time as Chief of Staff he directed the Israeli Army’s actions in Lebanon and also directed the establishment of Nahal and Givati Brigades.

Levi was well liked, if the comments about him on the Hebrew news website Ynet are any indication. Within hours of the news of his death being reported more than 200 comments were recorded on Ynet.

He was described as modest, smart, relaxed. Many said there is no one like him around today.

Commenters said:

“He was the first Chief of Staff who really understood what it meant to be Chief of Staff.”

“Where will we find other men like this one.”

“A generation of giants has passed.”

“I wish there could be more like you.”

“He was a man of deeds, not words.”

“It’s not a surprise he didn’t go into politics.”

“He didn’t chase after headlines.”

He was buried Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008, at Kibbutz Beit Alpha, with eight generals carrying his body, top government officials and hundreds who knew and worked with him in attendance.

In My Heart Editor’s Note: We invite former comrades in arms, in business and in life to write to us with stories, tributes and reminiscences of Moshe Levy.