Death of a Friend
|3 May 93
A friend died today for nothing.
It was a sick accident, a cruel twist of fate so close to the end of the
tour. Right now I am sitting in the dark on a roadblock trying to
make sense of what happened and coming to terms with my feelings. I
guess that after carrying loaded weapons around with us 24 hours a day, it
was bound to happen eventually. Tony is taking it really hard.
To kill another human being is hard enough, but to kill a friend is beyond comprehension.
Seeing Mike lying in the dirt, blood spreading out into the
desert was unreal, I didn't want to believe what I was seeing. One
look and I knew he was dead, but the others refused to believe it.
They continued CPR until the ambulance arrived and for a half hour in the
field hospital. He died quickly though, the bullet entered his
forehead and blew the back of his head out. It is probably better
that way, I don't think a person like Mike could live as a vegetable.
We have thrown ourselves into our work with a vengeance
tonight, trying to forget. We have already found four weapons in an
hour and a half. We are seeing more weapons in town lately and for
the last two nights the ROWPU has come under attack. It is a good
indication of how little we have done to bring peace to this
country. We have rebuilt their economy and police forces, but we
cannot bring peace unless they are willing to stop killing each other and
lay down their arms. There is no way we could ever fully disarm a
country like this. The weapons we capture are just a token
Mike's death makes me wonder is any of it was worth
while. Up to this point we have been extremely lucky with the number
of mines we have hit and the number of times we have been shot at.
How would we have reacted if it was the Somalis who killed one of our
8 May 93
Last night we had a BBQ and a few beer in Mike's
memory. It was a much nicer way to say goodbye than the memorial
parade, Mike would have wanted it that way. It was weird seeing Tony
drinking with everyone. He was smiling constantly as if seeking
acceptance from everyone. He is taking it better than I expected,
probably because of
support everyone has been giving him.
On the 5th, we escorted a food convoy from Bulo
Burti to Montebann, then north to a small ghost town on the border with
the SNF area. The food was unloaded and we guarded it for a day
until the SNF trucks arrived to pick it up. While there, I found a
large black scorpion that was as long as my outstretched hand. I
captured him and brought him back to camp. He ate my other pet
scorpions without even a fight. Today, while working I found a five
inch long centipede. It was about a centimeter wide. Then
tonight while I was taking a piss, a camel spider ran up the piss tube
and jumped at me.
The bugs here are starting to wear on my nerves. The camel
spiders hide on the shelves above my cot as if in ambush. You can
hear them run across the floors as you sleep and when you try and step on
them, they stand up to you, darting at you making a squealing sound.
Some guys sleep under their bug nets hoping to keep them out. I
sleep without a net. I figure the net will just piss them off and I
don't want to be trapped inside a net with an angry camel spider.
Tonight the sergeants actually bought a round of beer for the troops -
how out of character. The platoon commander, callsign spider, is
back from leave and still seeking the acceptance of his troops but finding
none. Some things never change.
The rainy season is finally here. We have been having some wicked
storms and rain nearly every day. Huge thunder clouds roll across
the sky flashing lightning and pouring out rain. Everything is
turning green and there is a smell of life about everything. The
nights have been cooler and there is often a good wind. It is much
more humid though, making some days unbearable. The rain is
Everything is in full swing to bring us home. One Commando is
gone to Mogadishu and we have begun to tear down and pack our
equipment. Yesterday was spent cleaning kit and today I was down at
callsign 8 building crates.
Barbara McDougall is arriving tomorrow as part of the
investigation. Apparently the media is now saying that we are a
bunch of neo-nazi, white supremacist skin heads and KKK members. Sure
there are a few racists here, but less than in any average cross-section
of Canadian society. The media is still raising hell about the four
Somalis we killed, but say nothing about the 180 that the Belgians killed
or the countless that the Americans have killed. It is really
starting to bother me the way the media is treating us.
My leave in Mombasa from the 23rd to the 27th of April was
excellent. I stayed at the Reef hotel again and did my advanced
scuba course with Howard, the hotel instructor. I also bought a
bunch of Ethiopian silver and of course spent allot of time exploring
Mombasa and the night clubs. I've decided to take my two weeks leave
in Mombasa because I want to return to Canada with the Commando.
That will only leave me with nine days off, so I don't really have time to