Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Monday, July 16, 2018  

Somalia '93




 

The New Camp

14 January 93

Only our platoon moved to the new camp today. We loaded up on Somali trucks and once more made the drive through town. On our way through I saw 2 stripped down BRDM 1's in a courtyard.

We spent the day setting up wire around the perimeter, digging bunkers and setting up tents. In the afternoon I went over to C/S 0 and C/S 8 to pick up supplies. They are living in buildings, sleeping on cots and have ''fridges connected to generators. They drink ice cold beer and water while the little water we have is hot from sitting in the sun. Seeing all this sent my moral on a dive for the rest of the day.

As the sun went down, we worked on our sleeping areas in the tents. We have three sections of modular tent for six of us, so there is plenty of room. I then had my first hot meal and went out to the solar shower we set up for my first good wash in 2 Ĺ weeks. I never thought a shower could feel so good.

Sgt Quinton found a four inch long scorpion crawling into his sleeping bag. Everyone is shaking out their kit and putting up their mosquito nets before bed.

15 January 93

Today was spent finishing the bunkers and perimeter wire, and, improving our tents. Nine platoon arrived this morning and slept all day while we worked and did security. Our commando is the only unit in the whole battle group with this much security. Over at C/S 8 yesterday, they didn't even have wire around their position or anyone on security.

Our carriers, cots and barrack boxes arrived this afternoon. With the white liners we put up in our tent, we are living extremely comfortably now. It's hard to believe we were living in the dirt beside a trench just a couple of days ago.

I packed a ration box full of stuff to mail back to Canada. They made us bring so much useless kit that we are swamped. What do I need my full arctic sleeping bag, sweater, and rain gear for?  Typical Canadian planning, we needed info on the climate here, somebody in Ottawa looked up desert in the dictionary, it said cold at night, so we bring cold weather gear.  I Guess they couldn't find anything on the Ogaden desert in their encyclopedias.

My shits came back today and my sinuses are stuffed up. I hope its not making a comeback.

16 January 93

It is a quiet day. I spend it lounging around the tent and doing security. Kelleher and Glover are on shit burning detail today. They pour diesel into the half barrels from our latrine, light it and burn it to ash by stirring and adding more diesel. The smell of burning shit fills the camp and gets into everything.

They are setting up a generator and laying wire, so we should have electricity soon. We will even have two 'fridges for the camp to cool down some beer and water. Life is improving by bounds every day.

I've been shitting all morning, but I can still eat and drink so it is not leaving me as weak as it has in the past.

The Red Cross has pulled out of Bardera because one of their workers was killed a few days ago. Fighting has been intensifying in Mogadishu and they expect with the US presence, the gunmen will leave the city and head out here.

All the gunfire we heard the night before we came here was a hostage taking at the bridge in which a woman was shot. Two commando will be doing something about this tomorrow, but I don't know what. Also, one of our patrols found a body this morning. Just another killing.

Talking with the guys who drove our carriers up, apparently Mogadishu is a war torn city. Every building is shot up, bombed out or fallen down. Some marines were ambushed re-entering their own lines and a Pakistani was killed in another incident.

I feel another shit coming on, so that's enough writing for tonight. This will be the tenth shit today, so far. . . Not as bad as before, but still not pleasant.

17 January 93

I still have the diarrhea this morning, so I went to see the medics. They gave me Ciprofloxain 500mg, an anti-bacterial medicine. We have nicknamed the disease webi shabeelle belly after the river that runs through town. Many of us have it and there is often a line for the latrine, you shit yourself often.

We spent the rest of the day re-enforcing our perimeter and filling sandbags. It's hard work under the afternoon sun, but we don't work in the mornings and evenings like we were taught to. Our officers are too used to the nine to five workday and refuse to adjust. It's not them out there in the sun though.

Kirkland, Harding and Veary took the carrier out today to test fire the weapons in the turret and zero them. There are problems with the aim, but we will have to work through them.  "Just remember, aim high and right... or was that low and left?!?"

I am listening to some of the others talk about the locals. I overhear many derogatory comments. "We should use this place as a nuclear dump, its worthless." "I never let the fuckin' savages close to me. If they get too close I shove my rifle barrel in their chest." "Fuckin' tar monkeys, why should we help them? If they haven't improved in the last thousand years, they won't improve now. They're so backwards. Why bother?"

The racism and closed mindedness astounds me. The majority of our people hate the Somalis and the country. It is backward and in rough condition, but it also has beauty and culture. They just can't deal with anything different.

18 January 93

I spent a quiet day writing letters and reading. Henderson found a large maggot living in his leg. Tomorrow we are going out to fire the machine guns and other support weapons.

19 January 93

 

This morning we drove to the other end of Beled Weyne and then out into the country side to test fire all of our weapons. The troops fired their C7s and C9s, then we put a belt of ammo through each of the C6s.

It is amazing the number of weapons the seven of us in HQ/Wpnís Det have. Just among us we have;

1 C3 7.62mm sniper rifle,
1 .50 cal machine gun,
1 C5 7.72mm machine gun,
2 C6 7.72mm machine guns,
5 C7 5.56mm assault rifles,
1 Carl Gustav 84mm anti-tank weapon,
5 M-72 66mm light anti-tank weapons,
1 60mm mortar with bipod,
2 Browning 9mm pistols,
smoke grenades,
smoke dischargers on the turret,
CS tear gas grenades,
paraflares,
Grizzly armoured personnel carrier,
1 set night vision goggles,
2 starlights,
1 laser rangefinder,
1 night vision periscope,
2 77 set Vhs radios,
1 160 set Vhs radio,
1 524 set Vhs radio,
1 Matel telephone,
1 515 HF radio,
1 DT-1000 burst transmitter, and
1 printer for the DT-1000,

Itís a lot of firepower for seven people. I just havenít figured out how we are supposed to carry it all should anything happen.  It is quite the difference from a few weeks ago when I couldn't even get a magazine full of ammo for my pistol, let alone a belt of ammo for my C6.

I did my wash this afternoon. I was quite the chore doing it in a wash tub with a washboard. It took all afternoon to wash and dry two changes of cloths. As soon as they were hung on the line, they were covered in dirt again by the passing dust devils. At least they didn't stink as much as they had.

Apparently they have negotiated a cease-fire between Ali Mahdi and Aidid. If all goes well and we manage to secure our AOR on schedule, we could be going back to Canada by the end of March. The Islamic fundamentalists didn't attack on the 16th as they said they would. Intelligence is now saying the attack will come tomorrow. In our original orders we were told that it was Aidid's forces that would attack if we didn't recognize him as president, as usual, conflicting orders.

After three days of taking the pills I still have diarrhea, but they have helped. The diarrhea is less frequent and I can sleep through the night.

20 January 93

I managed to get through to Mom on the satellite phone last night at about midnight here, 4 p.m. there.  It was really weird, I didn't know what to say and we just sat there for long periods of silence.  I cannot describe what it is like here or what we are going through, so little is left to say.  I guess it is good to let her know I am okay though.

After breakfast this morning we painted the carriers tan. They are still UN white in accordance with our original mission. Now that our mandate is peace making instead of peace keeping we opt for some degree of camouflage. We have no paint, so we mix dirt and water in the laundry tubs and smeared it on with our hands. We were a sight, grown men playing in the mud.

The rest of the day was spent preparing to go out on patrol - packing kit, loading the carriers and catching up on sleep.

Earlier this afternoon someone found a small scorpion in their ration pack. It was tiny, about the size of your pinky nail. It was so small that it all but disappeared in the sand. Chris also found a scorpion by his bed. I cut the top off a water bottle and captured him. With the top taped off and some air holes, I have a new pet. Pedro is about two inches long and has huge claws and a large venom sac on his tail. He also moves very quick. He is a formidable little guy. Tomorrow I will make him a better home.

While test driving their carrier earlier today, C/S 32C hit on old man. The bridge across the river is barely wide enough for a vehicle and pedestrians must step right off to the side. I guess he didnít get over far enough. They took him to the hospital for minor cuts, luckily he is okay.

This evening some canteen supplies came in. We got some South African beer called Castle Lager and a few cartons of the Kenyan cigarettes that all the Somalis smoke, Sportsman's. I drank my two beer as slowly as possible and read and re-read my first letter to arrive, from Heather.

As I was reading, a cat ran by my tent. It reminded me of the kitten the Somali kids were torturing last week. They had a newborn kitten and were carrying it around roughly by the scruff of the neck. They had already poked one of its eyes out and were delighting in its screams of pain as they threw it into the thorn bushes. The children would fight over it, tearing at it as it mewed and screamed in pain and fear.

It tore me apart to see them doing this. I wanted to run out and put it out of its misery or nurse it back to health, but instead did nothing. Watching that taught me a great deal about how much value these people put in life.

21 January 93

We were allowed to sleep in until 7:30 this morning, but I was up over an hour before that. My sleep is still filled with violent and disturbing dreams. Repeatedly through the night I start awake, bolting upright in bed. I no longer sleep with a round in the chamber of my pistol. The other night Harding woke me in the middle of a dream by poking me with the barrel of his rifle. When I came to my senses, my pistol was out, finger on the trigger.

It is happening to everyone. You can tell when you wake them or by listening during the night, but no-one talks about it.

The wind and dust is getting really bad in camp. Everything is quickly covered by a thin layer of dirt that manages to work its way into everything. We have to constantly clean our weapons and we are filthy again minutes after washing.

This morning I made Pedro an aquarium out of an old bottle and tried to feed him a large grasshopper, but he wasn't hungry. Three section has a pet tarantula named Boris, so we threw him and Pedro into a ration box and let them fight it out. Pedro went on the attack, but Boris kept running away. Eventually Pedro caught him and they went at it. Pedro stung Boris repeatedly then started pulling off his legs.

Unwilling to admit defeat, three section searched their tent and found a scorpion about twice the size of Pedro and insisted on a rematch. I tried to back out until tomorrow, but they would have none of that. Even though Pedro was tired he was aggressive and put Hogan on the run. Eventually Pedro managed to get up on Hogan's back and tried repeatedly to get his stinger through Hogan's armour.

After a bitter struggle, Hogan managed to get his stinger into Pedro's stomach. The match ended with Hogan parading around with Pedro impaled on his tail. I was sorry to see Pedro killed and vowed to avenge his death.

One commando's sergeant major broke his back and some facial bones in an APC accident today. Also C/S 62 hit a mine blowing four tires off their vehicle. Somehow no-one was hurt. WO Sorbie got bit by a scorpion earlier today. His leg went numb and he ended up with a splitting headache. It was an eventful day.

Intelligence reports that General Aidid is calling together his commanders for a conference. It is probably a prelude to a push for power.

Today I finished the Ciprofloxain and I'm still repeatedly rushing to the latrine and shitting myself. I hope this passes soon, it is draining.

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