|28 January 93
It is practically a day off. All we had to do was
put everything back in the carriers and restock water and rations. Then
this evening we had a class in unarmed combat. The day was actually
pretty nice for a change. It was cloudy
all day which kept the temperature down and it even rained a bit before sunset.
T19C hit an anti-tank mine today. Also, our rules of engagement
have changed. We can kill anyone with a weapon if they do not
immediately surrender after a warning shot, even if they are running
away. We have also had kids infiltrating our position to steal
stuff. In return, we have set up trip flares in the concertina and
have orders to shoot anyone caught within the perimeter, armed or not, if
they do not surrender after a warning shot.
We will patrol the villages along the east side of the river tomorrow
looking for weapons caches. We will be taking an interpreter with us
which should make us more effective.
29 January 93
We started late this morning because our
interpreter showed up far past when he was supposed to arrive. When he
(Abdul) finally arrived, we headed south, then east to search the large
village by the river. Finding nothing we headed south along
the highway past Nuur Fanax where we stopped for lunch.
We searched a village farther south named Garesiyaani,
then headed west to the village of Boauo. It is a very large village
where there was a great deal of fighting against Siad Barre's troops in
the past. A large amount of the village had been burnt to
the ground. The interpreter says there are many weapons here, but all we manage
to find is a cache of antitank mines.
As we were driving into town earlier, a cloudburst hit us, drenching
everything. It was great! It continued to rain all afternoon
and into the evening, so when we pulled into our hide for the evening near
Garesiyaani, we set up tarps behind the vehicles. I slept there
amongst the rocks.
32 had a contact today. Near Yesouman, a lone gunman fired off a
mag at them. They returned fire with four C7's and a C9, but hit
nothing and the gunman got away.
30 January 93
I sat up last night talking with Abdul about many
things including his country. He says that every household has a gun
and that the only solution is to forceably disarm the entire country.
That would be quite a task.
We returned with the engineers to the town of Boauo to
clear the mine cache. While they were off, Pat and I bought some African
cloth to send home. We remove 13 TM and TMH 46 Soviet
anti-tank mines from a hut in the village and take them a few
kilometers out of town. The engineers blew the mines while we
watch from a few hundred meters away.
We return to base camp to find the flags at half-mast. Another
marine has died in Mogadishu.
I pulled canteen duty this evening, so I am sitting here drinking more
than my fair share of cold beer, listening to Jimi Hendrix and reading the
Snow Leopard by Peter Mathiessen. The Snow Leopard seems to be
affecting me more than the first time I read it years ago. I don't
know if it is because of the situation I am in or the fact that I am at a
more mature point in my life.
"Confronted by the pain of Asia, one cannot turn away. In
India, human misery seems so pervasive that one takes in only stray
details; a warped leg or a dead eye, a sick pariah dog eating withered
grass, an ancient woman lifting her sari to move her shrunken bowels by
- Pg 12, The Snow Leopard, Peter Mathiessen.
These words speak to me. I see so much pain, poverty and despair
that my mind just shuts down, only registering the odd extreme
details. I was worrying because it wasn't effecting me the way
it did when I first got here. Am I becoming calloused to the grief I
am confronted with every day? The nightmare, no disturbing dreams,
are becoming less frequent. Is this a good sign?
Someone tried to infiltrate our position again tonight.
Last night he made it by the trip flares, but tonight we changed them
from slack to tight wire and he set it off. By the time the sentries
got there, he was gone. We have booby-trapped one of the jerry cans
he has been stealing. That will get him if we don't first.
31 January 93
I got a valentine's day card from my Mom this morning along with a letter from
the daughter of the person who sent us a Christmas card. It is nice to receive these
bits of mail from Canada, even if it is from people we don't know and just want to
help in some small way.
Late this morning we got the word to mount up. A Somali pickup
had been stolen by 3 gunmen and we were off in hot pursuit. We
caught up with the vehicle in Beerxaano with a flat tire. We found
one guy in the vehicle with an AK, the others had fled. Pat
approached him cautiously, weapon at the ready and persuaded him to put
down his weapon. It was a brave thing for Pat to do even if every
one of us had the Somalis' head in our sights and our fingers on the
trigger. The slightest twitch and he would have ceased to exist.
We searched the area, but did not find the others. We did find
some heavy weapons and anti-personnel mines though, so we called in the
engineers to dispose of them.
Eventually the owner of the vehicle arrived with his entire extended
family tagging along to help him tow it back to town. We escorted
him back to the police station and turned over our prisoner, probably to
be released later in the day because the cells were full.