Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Tuesday, September 28, 2021  

Somalia '93


Struggling for our Sanity

2 April 93

As the murder investigation gets into full swing, more and more people are being implicated.  Our platoon is guarding the 2 Commando prisoners, more and more people are showing up each day.  2 Commando's OC and CSM have been relieved of duty and sent back to Canada, effectively ending their careers.  Two Sergeants and I thing one Master Corporal are in jail along with several troops.

Someone took pictures of the torture, which have been turned over to the investigators.  They also have the pipe that Matchee used in the beating.  Matchee is apparently a vegetable now though, so he will not be held responsible for what he did.  This has broken in the news back home and the politicians are out for blood.  It is even worse with an election on the horizon.

There is no sympathy for any of the people in 2 Commando who did this.  Usually everyone pulls together and supports each other, but this time they have gone too far.  Everyone can see that this could mean the end of the regiment, we already have too many enemies.

We have been on garrison duty since the convoy escort.  We are spread pretty thin with our troops tasked out to escort another food convoy, others doing a machine gun course, working in Service Commando's kitchen, guarding the 2 Commando prisoners, covering off the bunkers for guard duty, working the canteen and doing CQ duty.

A little girl walks by in a glittering blue party dress.  It is so incongruous with her frail skeletal limbs and shaved head.  Her smile is bright and alive.  She carries a pail made from an old tin can in which she receives her ration of food at the feeding center.

There is a storm brewing on the horizon.  The clouds are dark and ominous.  A dust storm blocks out the southern horizon.  The rain comes and goes mixed with hot, humid sun.  The rainy season is here.

I guarded the prisoners ot C/S 0 this evening, two Sergeants and two troopers.  The story was on the fourth page of today's paper with their names.  They are looking at the beginning of the end.

4 April 93

The worst part is that I wonder what I have given up. I have left a great deal behind in order to help others. But do I do it for others or do I do it for myself? I am missing so much in life, but I am also gaining so much. It is an experience like no other.

I walk around drunk with a loaded pistol to my head. The cold, steel, pressure against my temple feels good. I hold a pistol to a child's head in a macabre game, "eeny, meany, miney, moe . . ." His friends laugh at the joke of it, but scatter when I point it at them.

Today 31C ran a truck off the road by mistake, killing three. An orphaned child clings to his mother's breast crying. Her head is exploded on the pavement. Death and blood is everywhere.

A sandstorm came from the south this evening. A dark, mile high wall approached and engulfed us. It was eery as the cold wind came up and the sun disappeared. I sat under the porch of my tent watching the magnificence of the world unleash in front of me. Sand and wind and rain swirling as one.

It is night now. I am surrounded by darkness. I want to go out hunting, but know I shouldn't . . .

5 April 93

Its a full moon. I look up to see a green, glowing creature go streaking by, followed soon after by another. The pair begin to dance about, arms flailing, screaming and wailing like banshees. Long hours of boredom have finally taken their toll on the already frail sanity of Daren and Adam. They'd broken open a couple of glow sticks, painted their bodies and went tearing off into the night. They had planned on frightening the refugee kids, but only got fits of hysterical laughter for their efforts.

We are over three months into the tour and pulling through on strange and warped senses of humour. Our patience and compassion is constantly strained and tested as the situation continues to demand more than we are capable of giving.

10 April 93

Tonight I sat watching the fiery beauty of the African sunset. The intensity of colour is like nothing ever experienced in Canada. An expatriate I met in Nairobi said, "you come to Africa expecting to change things, but soon find that it is Africa that has changed you." The culture and climate of Africa have such a profound effect on you. It changes the way you view the world and yourself.

The suffering we experience in our lives becomes so small when it is contrasted with the immensity of suffering here. What I see is often painful, but it is a tremendous chance for growth and experience. I have learned far more about myself and what is important to me in these few months here, than I could have in a lifetime in Canada.

No matter how much pain and despair I am exposed to here, it is nothing compared to the satisfaction that comes from helping others. The fact that children's laughter has replaced the sound of gunfire in the streets is enough.

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