Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Wednesday, January 24, 2018  

Somalia '93




 

Last Words of a Dying Soldier

28 February 9

I'm on GD (general duties) today, so I got to clean up after the party, and lucky me, burn the shit.  The blue rockets just weren't cutting it, so we have gone back to the wooden shitter.  Fine by me, it is more comfortable, but now we have to do 'shit detail.'  Burning shit took all morning.  Add diesel, light, stir, watch, add more diesel, stir, stir, add, watch, stir ... until finally you are left with a small pile of ash in the bottom of the barrel. 

Just after lunch, Tim and I had to dig the piss tubes back into the gravel sump, then cover the sump with a mound of earth.  It was hard, hot work in the afternoon sun.  Then we had to empty the BBQ's and return them to C/S 8.  All together is was a very dirty day.  I appreciated our new showers.

3 March 93

We have been spread pretty thin over the past few days, so I have not had much time to write anything.  There were only 15 of us left to pull all of the guard shifts, do GD and work the canteen.  Up until this morning I had been working all day and most of the night getting less than 4 broken hours of sleep each day.  Today I spent most of the day cleaning captured weapons so that others can go out and fire them, unjust.  It was good training though because I got to practice stripping, assembling and operating so many different weapons.  There were 2 AK-47's with folding stocks, 2 Hungarian AK's,  2 G3-A3's, 1 MG42, 1 Egyptian Hakim, the BM 19 PC we captured on the last patrol and another SAR 80.  I fell in love with the AK again, but as usual they wouldn't let me keep it.

Today, one of the Special Forces A-Teams that is working with us hit a mine in their hummer in the tango sector.  They were driving down a previously cleared track when they hit it.  The driver died blaming himself and asking if the rest of his team was okay.  They were not, all three were seriously injured, but they will probably live.

5 March 93

Last night troops found some Somalis trying to breach the wire of the engineer compound, so they opened up on them, hitting at least two.  One took two rounds to the head and was killed, the other was badly wounded.  This was the second night in a row that shots were fired at Somalis.  The night before, the SF guys opened up on four Somalis who were trying to break into their compound, unfortunately all got away.

The OC was saying that he would have trouble justifying shooting someone for coming through our wire after a jerry can of fuel.  We have be lucky to have only lost fuel though, they have been stealing grenades from C/S 8 and other weapons and equipment from everyone else.  Also, they may be bringing one of those grenades or weapons back to use on us.  They mine the roads we travel, why wouldn't they attack us in our compounds.  I would have no trouble justifying the use of force as long as I followed the open fire policy.  After all, looters are shot.

The platoon commander ordered me to write an article for the Petawawa Post about 7 platoon in Somalia, which I did.  He refused to submit it though and is making me write another sanitized version.  He says the people back home don't want to know that kids throw rocks and sometimes grenades at us or that we are constantly the targets of sniper fire.

This morning we headed out on a one day patrol.  For the first time we headed north, then at the first town we headed east down a track to check on a minefield in the area.  We stopped to check a pile of sticks on the track which might be marking a mine.  It was nothing, but we noticed tanks in the trees about 500m away.  We found about 20 centurion and M-60 tanks all destroyed.  They had probably belonged to Siad Barre's troops.  Turrets and parts were scattered everywhere from the explosions.  Both exploded and unexploded shells littered the area.

Mussa (the interpreter) was talking with a local who agreed to show us the location of a large minefield nearby.  We drove about a kilometer west then north, then stopped and continued on foot with me carrying the mine detector.  The Somali pointed out two mines that they had pulled out of the road and deactivated.  He then pointed out the limits of the minefield which extended for several kilometers.

We marked the minefield on the map and turned around to head back.  As I began to walk, the mine detector went off.  At first I thought it was just my boot, but after a couple of steps I thought better of it and called out for everyone to halt.  I carefully turned around and rechecked the area.  Sgt Veary started prodding at my signal and found the mine I had just stepped on.  It was a Soviet anti-tank mine, luckily I did not step hard enough to set it off.

We marked the mine and I led us out of the minefield, each person following carefully in my footsteps.  Great way to recce, human mine detectors.  Oh well, 8 lives left.

We returned to camp to report the minefield and headed back out at 17h30.  We headed south and set up a roadblock on the highway.  The first two trucks had a G3 and 2 AK's, but they had permits issued by two Commando so the platoon commander made us give them back.  In the first hour we searched 13 vehicles, then things slowed down.

I sat talking with Mussa for awhile about Islam and the Somali culture.  I am posting a letter for him back to Canada and have given him a number of magazines to read.  We talk about the Koran which I have just finished reading.  Even though I do not agree with their beliefs I must respect their faith and devotion.  They follow their path more closely than most Christians that I know.   Most of the population follows the Koran very closely.  If only it prohibited fighting.

Vehicles continue to trickle through all night, but the patrol continues to be uneventful.

6 March 93

It turned out to be a busier night than expected with vehicles coming through at all hours.  We pulled in the roadblock at around five and headed back to Beled Weyne.  I barely slept last night, so as soon as I got in the carrier I passed out.  Then without even realizing we had moved, we were back in camp.

I unloaded the carrier then passed out again on my cot.  Just after I woke up I noticed that there was a desk in Daren's bed space.  I asked where the hell it had come from and they told me they had built it while I was sleeping.  I must have been tired.  Usually light footsteps or movement wakes me, but they were hammering and sawing right next to me.

We took over garrison duty again.  It is boring, but a good chance to catch up on my reading and letter writing.  I finally wrote a politically correct article for the Petawawa Post.  It was trash, just what they were looking for.

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