Image Courtesy of Corinne Miller
By John Maggio
Corinne Miller, a 66-year-old grandmother who lives in Denver, CO, unknowingly selected a bad time to take her 4th trip to Israel on October 7, 2023.
She brought along her friend, 70-year-old Linda Kavois from Chicago, IL, who was visiting Israel for the first time. Their trip, originally planned to last roughly 2 weeks, was quickly cut to less than a week by Hamas’ attacks on Israel.
Even before Miller and Kavois landed, they were aware of the attacks from the Gaza Strip.
“I saw the news before we landed. I had bought the in-flight Wi-Fi so I saw the news. Once we landed, the [Tel Aviv] airport was a ghost town,” said Kavois.
They started off their trip heading north to Tiberias, an Israeli city on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee. While they were here, Miller downloaded an app called Home Front Command App. This is an app that is commonly used in Israel and is used to inform civilians of incoming attacks, such as missiles or aircraft, based on updates from the Israeli Defense Force. She was told to get it by an Israeli-American friend in the US who worked with the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
While in Tiberias, the Home Front Command App alerted her of a hostile aircraft in the area. She recalled hiding under a table in her Airbnb for safety.
“We got under the kitchen table like our Airbnb host said to do after hearing the siren in Tiberias. We are not allowed to come out of hiding for ten minutes after the siren stops. Once we got out, the siren would go off again. It did this four times, we had to hide under the table for 40 minutes,” Miller said.
Miller says that the Home Front Command App would “start flashing the flashlight and a siren would start screaming from the phone to get your attention.”
The US government had sent Miller an email offering her a way out in which she would have been put on a boat to Cyprus or taken by plane to Greece or Germany within 8 hours’ notice, but she decided to refuse the offer.
“We would have to have signed a promissory note stating that we would have to pay back the federal government. They also said that we had to book our own way back home once they dumped us off in Cyprus or Athens.”
Miller and Kavois were able to evacuate free-of-charge with the help of Project DYNAMO, a veteran-led non-profit that “operates in ‘the Grey Space’ where the U.S. government is… unable or unwilling to provide assistance” to American citizens in places of need, from war zones to disaster sites, at no cost to the ones being helped. Through Project DYNAMO, Miller and Kavois were able to come back to the U.S. unharmed.
Looking back at the trip, Miller says she feels immense sadness.
“I do get so sad that the trip showing Israel to my friend got messed up by terrorists, but at least we were able to get home okay, “ Miller said. “I wouldn’t say I’d return sometime soon, but I will go back.”