As he waited to meet James Forrestal, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus leaned forward in a plush, leather armchair. He planted his feet squarely on the ground and clenched his jaw tight, like a paratrooper ready to leap from an airplane onto the battlefield. Marcus knew the stakes were high this morning; David Ben-Gurion, leader of the Haganah (the underground Jewish defense force in Eretz Yisrael), had bluntly warned him: Unless we recruit someone like you to train our army, we won't survive the Arab onslaught after we declare our independence.
Although he was a shrewd visionary, Ben-Gurion could not have foreseen the historical irony about to unfold in Secretary Forrestal's office: Because Marcus served in the U.S. Army Reserve, he needed Forrestal's permission to go to Israel and advise its military. Forrestal, however, opposed creating a Jewish state in the Middle East. A "no" from him could threaten Israel's survival. When Forrestal opened his door, Mickey Marcus leaped into history.
Marcus convinced Forrestal to allow him to accept Ben-Gurion's appointment; however, the Secretary of Defense demanded that Marcus work undercover as "Michael Stone." Within several months, "Stone" had written training manuals for the Jewish army, outlined a command and control structure, and developed innovative tactics. Recognizing "Stone's" success, Ben-Gurion named him a lieutenant general, making Marcus the first Israeli general in nearly 2,000 years. Tragically, Marcus was killed by friendly fire only six hours before the cease-fire.