What comes to mind when you think of a war hero?

Imagine a decorated army general, who boldly fought in several wars and participated in highly dangerous clandestine missions. We would expect him to possess courage, intelligence and the ability to make split-second decisions. Readiness to put aside personal softness and "heart" for the sake of the greater good. We'd also imagine that such an individual would have rigid standards and expect all to keep up with his pace and stay true to the objectives he sets forth. Woe to the weak of heart or spirit!

And most of all, he'd surely feel a justified sense of pride and satisfaction over his many accomplishments and he'd define himself based on all his military accomplishments and talents.

Now, let me introduce you to Major General Doron Almog. Doron's many years of courageous service in the IDF allow him much to be proud of. But he chooses to focus instead on another passion, one inspired by a severely handicapped child.

This past June, Doron gave the keynote address at the banquet program in Davos, Switzerland, at the annual Jewish retreat of the EJSN (European Jewish Study Network) that I was privileged to attend.

One of the highlights of Doron's military career involves the famous 1976 Operation Entebbe. Doron was the first commander to land on the runway in Entebbe, marking it for the Israeli planes that followed. He then led the capture of the airfield's control towers, enabling the Israeli forces to free the hostages held captive in Uganda. Doron was the last to leave Ugandan soil after the successful mission.

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Another highlight in his prestigious career was the 1984-85 Operation Moses, the clandestine airlift of 6,000 endangered Jews from Ethiopia to Israel.

Doron's second brother, Eran, a tank commander, was killed on the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War. When Doron was told about his brother's death, he learned that due to the danger of advancing forces, Eran was abandoned, while injured in his tank, where he bled to death over a period of seven days. With a broken heart, Doron returned to his brother's tank to remove Eran's few personal belongings. At that moment, Doron resolved never to abandon a soldier, irrespective of the personal risk involved in bringing him to safety.

With the death of their son, Doron's family was actually considered a "bereaved family of Israel" which meant that Doron was free from army combat duty. But, in Doron's mind, that never even entered the realm of possibility.

Doron's army career is truly inspiring. "I witnessed the deaths of many comrades," Doron describes his life in the army. "My wife, Didi, has had countless sleepless nights not knowing if she'd ever see me again."

But what amazed me most was that when speaking of his life, Doron hardly touches on his daring and courageous exploits. Instead, he chooses to focus on his other life passion.

Doron Almog is the father of a son, Eran (named after his deceased brother), who was born with severe autism and developmental disability. Eran died at the age of 23 in 2007. Doron speaks about how raising such a special child was his greatest challenge and accomplishment.

"During the course of my life, I have accepted upon myself two commitments which have changed and shaped my life," Doron relates. "Firstly, to fight for the security of the Land of Israel and my people. Secondly, to offer a future of hope for the weakest and most defenseless members of Israeli society.

"These commitments stand before me and guide me every day and every hour as I continue to work for the security of Israel and try to build a better society which takes care of the most vulnerable in its midst."

Doron founded the village "These commitments guide me every hour as I work for the security of Israel and try to build a better society which takes care of the most vulnerable in its midst." of Aleh Negev, which provides residential, medical and social services to the severely handicapped of southern Israel. After Eran's death, Aleh Negev was renamed in his memory, Aleh Negev Nachalat Eran.

Aside from the many services that the Aleh village provides to its severely handicapped residents, Aleh also reaches out to the whole spectrum of Israeli society, encouraging them to visit the special members of the Aleh community and to volunteer in numerous programs aimed at enriching the lives of the severely disabled.

"All who see these children are touched to the core of their soul. Hardened criminals leave reformed, crying and resolving to change their lives by productively using the gifts with which G‑d had blessed them," Doron shares enthusiastically. "Army personnel and students leave as different people, with a new resolve to bring more goodness into our world."

Doron once hosted Benjamin ("Bibi") Netanyahu for a personal tour through the Aleh facilities in order to secure additional government funding for the village. The tour had concluded, they were exiting, but Doron didn't feel that Bibi truly appreciated what the village was about.

"Bibi," Doron turned to his friend, "I went with your brother, Yoni, to Entebbe. We traveled more than 4,000 kilometers on a dangerous mission to free our captured brethren. Yoni sacrificed his life for their freedom.

"Yet, right here, on our own land, there are many captured members of our society. They lack the basic freedom to enjoy a life that we all take for granted. We do not need to travel far, nor put our lives in danger for them. Bibi, will you help them?"

Aleh received the funding it was seeking.

At the time of Eran's death, in his early twenties, he was still unable to do practically anything for himself and remained at the cognitive level of an infant.

"It took Didi and me a year just to teach Eran how to hold a spoon to feed himself. How to lift his spoon in order to bring to his mouth the mashed baby food that he ate." Doron shows us the simple movement with his own hands.

"Here I was, an expert at deciphering complex terrorist encrypted codes and messages. I understood that when they said, for example, that they were going to a wedding, that it meant a bombing. Yet, at the same time, when I sat face to face with my own son, I couldn't enter his world. I couldn't understand what he meant or wanted," Doron expresses emotionally.

"So I resolved to just try to make him smile as much as I could. He could never communicate with me, but he could smile. And when he smiled I'd understand that he was happy."

Doron worked tirelessly for Eran, and all the most vulnerable members of society, to live a happier life. Doron's phenomenal perspective is that bringing a smile to the face of a developmentally challenged child is as great an accomplishment as a daring hostage rescue mission that kept the entire world transfixed.

"My son taught me two lessons:

"Firstly, Eran taught me to ignore my ego.

"So many of these children have parents who do not even admit that they exist! People are ashamed. It hurts their egos.

"We all want a child to follow our lead. A child who will be even more than we are—more talented, with even greater skills and triumphs. But that is all about usus and our ego!

"But love is about commitment.

"Secondly, my son "So many times throughout my son's life, I asked myself: Why does G‑d bring these kinds of children to our world?" taught me to realize and constantly remember that we are not here forever. We all have an end, when we, too, will not be able to move, do things for ourselves or others, or be mobile. We are all limited. Our years are limited. We must use our moments, all our abilities and all our strengths. We must make our lives count," Doron states passionately.

"So many times throughout my son's life, I asked myself: Why does G‑d bring these kinds of children to our world?

"But I think that the answer is obvious. It is to challenge us. How will we act towards them? How will we treat them? Will we learn these lessons?"

After hearing this soft, sensitive and big-hearted individual, I realized that Doron's daring courage and valiant acts of heroism were inspired by his inner sense of egoless commitment to his people.

By the time Doron finished his speech there was not a dry eye in the audience. We all stood up, and clapped and clapped, in awe of this great Jewish soul.

It was our way of thanking him.

For being the courageous general who risked his life, over and over again, to protect the small and vulnerable nation of Israel.

But, most of all, for teaching us the meaning of true heroism. For teaching us that we, too, can achieve greatness by leading an egoless life. And for demonstrating to us what is expected of each of us.

Click here to read Doron Almog's moving memorial to his son, Eran, delivered upon the conclusion of the thirty-day mourning period after his passing. At the memorial ceremony, the Aleh Negev rehabilitative village was renamed Nahalat Eran.